They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some come with attitude, some come placidly.  But ALL are at the mercy of critters, birds, and now US!  Yes, the wild adventures continue as we realize summer is turning to fall in our neck of the woods, and we have to consider how we’ll continue trying to save money as plants wind down for the year.

The idea of drinking our salads came up in conversation and research turned to things that grow nearby that can be turned into tea with a bit of honey.  So far, we have three tea blends.  According to a book on edible plants of Canada, evergreen needles can be used in teas, just not every single day, particularly for one species of Pine.  It was interesting to see how this book spoke positively about Ponderosa Pine, while everyone else spoke negatively.  The only negative is that if you want to have kids, don’t ingest Ponderosa pine while pregnant, it contains an element that will abort the child.  Otherwise, all warnings seemed to pertain to various tanins.  Tea in general has tanins as well, with green tea having more tanin in it than black tea believe it or not, and the reason most teas are black is precisely because of the tanins in the water.  However you don’t see tanin warnings on boxes or bags of store-bought tea.

Thanks to schedules being what they’ve been lately, we haven’t had time to forage for our usual salad fixings, but one outing did give us a fair bit of tea fixings.  So we’ve been drinking our salads for the past week.

Two teas that have gone over well so far have the following ingredients:

You will need:

To serve in mugs for four or more people
Use two quart jars or of similar size

Tea #1

two or three juniper berries per jar
handful of fresh chopped apple per jar (half that for dried)
a couple pinches of mint per jar
three large pinches of crushed nettle
three or four large pinches of crushed chokecherry leaves
handful of fresh halved rosehips split between two jars (half that for dried)

Tea #2
two pinches of fir per jar
one clump of dried apple per jar
two small pinches of nettle per jar
one clump of dried kinnikinnick per jar
a few rose hips per jar
two or three pinches of chokecherry leaves per jar
a teaspoon or less of crushed dried chokecherries

Add the above ingredients to each jar.  Heat up your kettle.  Pour into jars and let steep while you start dinner, or pour into jars and let steep all night ahead of tomorrow’s dinner.

Simply add honey to taste.

Even a third tea recipe, and the first one we tried being a carbon copy of tea #1 above but with pine instead of mint, tasted not too bad.  All three of these combinations tasted better when the emptied jar’s tea components were dumped into the second partially-emptied jar’s water and allowed to steep in the fridge over night.  Dividing up the difference and adding hot water to melt the honey, gave the tea a mellower texture and allowed the flavours to infuse better.

We still plan on having our wild salads if we can get a few more foraging days in for green leafy additions.  But we’ve just entered the season for Juniper berries here, and will be foraging for more of those soon!

In other non-shopping news, the boxes of windfall apples we gathered awhile back are slowly getting processed.  We have four pie packets and three cobbler packets in the freezer.  We have several month’s worth of apple sauce in the freezer as well, and have begun drying chopped apple for use in tea, gerbil food, and my daughter’s pemmican experiments.

Yes, my daughter is making pemmican and made her third batch this week.  Apparently this third batch was the best so far.  She used a flour mix of coconut, acorn, chokecherry, and ground dried apple to toss with the ground up stew beef she cooked.  She threw in ground up dried purslane as well.  I think personally, that this will be the recipe she goes for in the future.

Preparing the Kinnikinnick for drying was an exercise in amusement!  I couldn’t help taking pictures and posting the following homemade meme to Facebook!

What looks, cores, bruises, and tastes like an apple but is NOT an apple?!After posting that meme, I turned on the oven the next day to actually dry them, then went to get my daughter from work.  Upon entering the house, she promptly declared the place smelled like apple pie!  I had neither seasoned, nor made apple pie, only dried the bearberries in the oven!  So not only do these little things look, taste, bruise, and core like miniature apples, they also smell like them!

We also managed to find more Oregon grape that hasn’t shriveled up yet.  Hopefully we’ll be able to harvest way more next year, but we didn’t know these were edible till late in the season.  We have a decent amount to keep us from buying dried cranberries for a little while, but not for the entire winter season sadly.

Another plant we need to keep bringing more home of before they die off for the year, is nettle!  That stuff, while a pain to harvest if you’re not careful, has so many uses in our hygiene and dietary requirements!  Both it and dandelion!  I haven’t mastered how to cook burdock leaves and flowers yet to add those to our salads or sauces, but apparently after cooking they taste like artichoke.   We’ll have to experiment more with that next spring.

Our own garden is slowly releasing stuff for us.  We are regularly harvesting basil and mint and those plants are making their way indoors.  Our purslane dirt bag has largely taken, though a few in the middle appear to have died.  The potatoe plants look almost ready for harvesting as well.  Attempts to grow comfrey plants from seed took half the year, but we now have tiny seedlings.  Comfrey will be used for medical purposes once it grows big enough.  We may also try growing our own kinnikinnick over the winter and see how that experiment turns out.

Shopping in the woods has led to the discovery that not everything about a given plant is known by everyone, and we are having to piece information together.  Eventually I need to start recording what I know of each plant and making posts about those, then updating them as I learn new things.  Needless to say, these wild adventures aren’t ending anytime soon.