Learn the proper storage methods for your wild plants & herbs.
Chapter 8: How to Store Edible Wild Plants
Once you have decided that you want to become a forager, are well equipped with tools and are have learned the guidelines, you are moments away from discovering and preparing your first edible plant. It is best that you consume the wild plants you’ve picked while they’re still fresh, but we all have reasons for postponing the consumption of our wild plants and herbs. The main reason is often due to weather. When it is cold or raining out, I highly doubt you’d want to get up and go forage. It is nice to be able to take what you’ve collected and store if for later, especially during times when the weather isn’t ideal.
8.1 – Types Of Storage Methods
Blanching your Food
There are a couple of wild plants that you should blanch prior to freezing them, such as lamb’s quarters.
- Add salt in a pot of boiling water & prep your veggies.
- Either steam or boil the veggies until they are crisp, yet tender. The time they should stay boiling depends on the specific vegetable you have.
- Drain the veggies.
- Completely submerge the veggies in cool water for the same amount of time you steamed or boiled it.
- Drain them and you are done!
There are some plants that can go without blanching, but certain foods you do want to blanch are vegetables like asparagus and parsnips.
Freezing your Food
If you blanched your food, you could immediately freeze them after that. Freezing your plants is the easiest method used to preserved what you’ve gathered. If they were not blanched, just rinse them off in cool water and chop them. You can add your vegetables in ice trays, freezer bags or airtight plastic. Another method to freezing your plants is to place them on a baking sheet prior to freezing them. Then, you can put them in a freezer bag and seal them in. Once the plants thaw, they are no longer good for cooking, but can still be used to make wonderful salads! Do not be tempted to freeze them again once they have thawed; take only what you need to avoid waste.
Dry the Food
This method is the most traditional way to preserve vegetables. If your plants are already clean, do not get them damp again. If they haven’t been cleaned, do so and shake off the excess water and remove any debris. You will want to tie the stems with an elastic band, which is the recommended storage method, or string to make bundles. Do not tighten them so much because you want them to have adequate air. Place them in an area that is warm and dry, yet airy. Ideally somewhere away from sunlight. When your plants are ready to be hung on ropes or strings, paperclips are a tool that will come in handy. You can choose to omit hanging the plants and spread them out instead. It is ideal that you enclose then in a homemade screen or window screen to make sure they remain clean. Make sure that the plants dry openly and turn them from time to time. Another quicker method of drying your plants would be by using a conventional oven. All you need to do is evenly spread them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at the lowest temperature until they dry. If you want to invest in or already have a food dehydrator, this is yet another great method. Dehydrators do a wonderful job at drying your plants but make sure you follow the directions. You will know your plants have been dried the right way when they are brittle and crumble easily. Once you confirm this, begin separating the leaves off of the stems. Once you are finished, the plants can be stored in a mason jar with a tight lid on in a heavy duty zip-lock bag. Make sure you keep the plants in areas that are cool, dry, and away from moisture, heat, and sunlight. If you follow this, your dried plants can last you for one to two years. Pretty sweet, right?
The Foragers Bible
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