From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been interested in how to source food. No one would let me mind you, but it didn’t stop me from being jealous of squirrels, watching them feast during playtime. They ate acorns with such zeal they just had to be good. So, behind my parent’s backs, I tried on three occasions to taste-test them myself. I figured the first time I must have found one that was rotten as the taste was something between poison and death. The second time was just as insulting, and the third? Well, you see where this is going. Acorns are for squirrels and not four-year-old children. Or are they?
Read on to find out
In early summer, we (me and younger me) started with our yard. It was too early for acorns, which, it turns out, are edible by humans if they are milled into flour (who has the time?) or cooked (and even then, they aren’t particularly pleasant tasting). A dead end as we wouldn’t give them another chance to disgust us even if they were available.
So next, I researched annuals and perennials to find that many are edible if you start them from seed. (Do not attempt to eat from the following list if you purchased them at a lawn and garden shop.) I’m a reluctant gardener, though I appreciate how many adults consider it playtime, but I'll try anything with time on my hands. And I’m glad I did because nothing looks prettier as a salad topper than rose petals, pansy flowers, or Tiger lily blossoms. (You can try calendula, marigold, and borage too). I’m not sure if their subtle flavors add many nutrients, but they will make the child in you smile.
The question about the healthiness of eating flowers had me look up readily available botanicals that have health benefits, and many involve tea. You can make tea from pine tree needles (if you aren’t pregnant and choose those with 3, 4, or 5 needles to a cluster), which contain Vitamin C. Birch leaves offer flavonoids and tannins. Peppermint, rosemary, and lavender are all found in tea blends, giving the drinker vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium.
Eat Acorns? Yes you can!
We’ve covered the ability to make bread through acorn flour (even though we wouldn’t because we have no idea what milling an acorn entails), an attractive side salad, and a nutritious cup of tea. But what about protein? That is not so easily procured unless you’re into bugs or hunting. But I’m not. So, we got backyard chickens, enter the incredible edible egg. Remember the jingle from the American Egg Board?
I’m dating myself, but eggs are pretty special. And once chickens start laying, they come fast and furious. We had too many! What to do? Preserve them. It was a surprise to learn this was possible. Warning: You can never water glass (the name of the preservation process) with store-bought eggs. Even if you purchase your eggs from a roadside, don’t risk it because they cannot be washed. Eggs have a protective barrier over them to prevent bacteria from infiltrating the shell and harming the growing baby (we don’t have a rooster, so no chickens were harmed in the preservation process). I water-glassed the eggs in this picture from my chicken’s butt straight to the bottle, and they stayed fresh for months. Check out the video if you want to store your chicken’s eggs.
Once it was autumn, my favorite food appeared on a walk in the woods. Chicken of the Woods mushrooms are so delicious when fried in a touch of wine reduction sauce over pasta. Check out my blog “Moonshine’s Mushrooms” for more on that.
I add to my growing list of edibles every year, and next on the list is dandelion honey, which sounds worth waiting for in the spring of 2024.