Over the summer I’d like to share with you a 5 part mini series on foraging!
Foraging is an ancient form of gathering food. Ever since people came to be on earth, they have had to eat! Foraging is one of the many ways people got food. Now, in the 21st century, you almost never hear of anyone foraging for anything (unless they lost there iPhone in their purse and are foraging through credit cards to find it!). I really would like to know why we ever stopped foraging?? It helps you to be closed to nature, get outside, get active plus you feel fulfilled after a day of working and picking outdoors by getting to eat what you found!
So in each part, I will share with you a plant that can be used medicinally, can be found easily (in the central and Eastern states at least), is edible and a recipe for it! But through the whole series, I’d really like you to keep in mind that you have to treat the earth with respect in order to continue receiving such awesome things from her!
First off, the 4 main rules for foraging-
1. Make sure wherever you harvest is at minimum 100 ft. from a road cars drive on.
2. Make sure wherever your picking is public property (don’t pick on someone’s private land unless you’ve OK-ed it with the owners!)
3. Make sure where your picking is not somewhere that gets sprayed! You do not want chemicals all over you yummy wild food.
4. Give back to the earth and do your part to help keep the environment clean and healthy. Don’t take without giving back!!
So for Part 1 I bring you:
Staghorn Sumac is a tall bush, or small tree, with long green spikey leaves and big fuzzy clusters of bright red berries.They are ripe from June-September, you can tell they’re ripe because the berries will be red and fuzzy, like the ones pictured below. You’ve probably seen them around, but most people have no idea they’re edible or that they hold medicinal properties! Its probably one of the most easily recognizable plants around. The only poisonous look-a-like it has is poison sumac, which has white, smooth berries. So if you color blind take someone with you to make sure you pick the right ones! They are ripe from June-September, you can tell they’re ripe because the berries will be red and fuzzy, like the ones pictured below.
The berry clusters should look like this-
And the leaves will look like this
Traditionally, the berries are used for cough syrup, made into a super delicious lemonade type tea, to slow excessive bleeding and the leaves are used for sore throats. Today, I’m going to show you how to make the lemonade berry drink (I’ve dubbed this ‘Sumac-ade, since its made with Sumac, but more along the lines of lemonade) and how to use it to help sore throats.
For the ‘Sumac-ade’ you’ll need:
A few clusters of berries (4-6 per half gallon)
Lukewarm water (room temperature works fine)
1. Take your berry clusters and make sure there are no bugs or rotten spots. Be sure you pick them during a dry spell, or a few days after rain. If you pick them immediately following a rain, the rain will have washed off the acidity and the flavor will not be as strong.
2. Pull the berries off of the twig. Pull as many as you can off and leave the branch as bare as you can. Slightly bruise the berries as you take them off.
3. Put them in the lukewarm/room temp. water and let them soak for 25 minutes. The reason you don’t use boiling water is because it releases an acid that will make your tea very bitter. It won’t hurt you, it just won’t taste good.
4. Strain out the berries.
5. Strain again through a cheesecloth to catch all of the little hairs from the berries.
This ‘Sumac-ade’ is super high in vitamin C!! So drink up! I sweetened mine a little with some mint simple syrup, but it doesn’t have to be sweetened at all. I’m just obsessed with mint.
Lastly, dry the leaves. You can either tie them and hang them upside down til the are dried up, or put them in a dehydrator. I’m doing both methods, but have most of mine in the dehydrator, simply to save time. Remove the leaves from the stems and put them in on the lowest setting (around 95 degrees) and let them dry for around 12 hours. Or until they are fully dried. Steep it just like you would any tea and gargle or drink to soothe a sore throat! The ‘Sumac-ade’ can also be used to soothe sore throats and help colds. The high vitamin C content helps your body fight back against colds.
Enjoy the delicious flavor of ‘Sumac-ade’ and have a wonderful time foraging!!
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~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent