Posts Tagged ‘survive’

Survival foods: Rodents

Posted: May 19, 2014 by Rex Trulove in Survival, survival food, wild food
Tags: , , , , , ,

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People can get a little squimish when it comes to the thought of eating certain foods. In a survival situation though, many food choices are mostly based on availability. This means that people must be willing to eat what is available. They can also be quite surprised to find that the food is tasty, though they might not have otherwise considered consuming it if the situation hadn’t be so dire.

Rodents fit into this catagory, because many people might not consider eating them and yet they can be delicious and healthful. Rodents are also found around the world. It should be considered that most rodents normally eat primarily vegetation, which is what livestock animals eat. Most are far from being ‘filthy’.

Voles, muskrats, beavers, nutria, lemmings, squirrels, porcupines and even mice are quite edible and are excellent sources of protein. They all populate quickly and survive in such varied habitats that it is hard to find an area that doesn’t have rodents, any time of the year. Some do hibernate in the winter, but others don’t.

Rabbits and hares are purposely not true rodents, though most people understand that they are edible. They are separate from rodents, in that they have double incisor teeth, one set in front of the other, instead of the single incisors of the rodents. For practical purposes, though, they can be added to the long list of rodents that can be eaten for survival.

They aren’t especially difficult to catch or clean, with the exception of porcupines, and homemade traps aren’t hard to make for this purpose. Cooking them also isn’t difficult since they can be fried, boiled, baked, barbecued, roasted or cooked almost any way that other meat can be.

Some cultures have been eating rodents for a long time as a normal part of their diet. In fact, some rodents are commonly eaten in even the United States, though people may not realize that they are eating rodents. High class restaurants routinely serve them, by using names that may not be familiar to the diners.

We will be looking further into some of the ways various rodents can be prepared to create delicious meals that will sustain a person as well as filling their bellies with great tasting food.

The picture is of a nutria, a quite edible rodent, and it was taken by , public domain, pixabay.com/en/nutria-rat-myocastor-coypus-273577/

Last in the series: Survival foods: Wild Mustard

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There are many different kinds of wild mustard and the grow virtually everywhere in the world except the permanently cold north and south polar regions. These wild herbs are not only great survival foods, they are wonderful additions to the dinner table or a camping meal.

Many familiar garden vegetables belong to the mustard family, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, rutabaga, turnips and Brussels sprouts. Because of the number of variations in wild mustard, it is difficult to give a good description. The flowers tend to be small and are often yellow, but they can also be white, reddish, and even pink or purple. The leaves are often lobed. One of the best representatives in general is garden mustard, which is grown mainly for the leaves and the seeds.

The plant also has a big range since there are so many species; from highland to lowland, good soil, poor soil, drier locations, damp locations, gardens, waysides, waste areas and fields.

The leaves can be steamed or boiled and they are quite tasty, especially when the plant is younger. They have a characteristic peppery flavor that gets stronger and more bitter as the herb grows older. To overcome this, boil the leaves in a couple changes of lightly salted water. Note, however, that pouring the water out when changing it also means that you will be losing a lot of vitamins and minerals.

Speaking of the nutritional value, a cupful of chopped mustard greens has only 15 calories and are a good source of fiber. This herb is a good source of protein, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. It is a very good source for folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and an excellent source for vitamin K, vitamin A and manganese.

In addition to boiling or steaming, the raw leaves can also be added to green salads. They are also pleasant when used in sandwiches in much the same way that lettuce is used.

Wild mustard is often overlooked as a survival food, but it could easily be a staple that has great value because of how available and healthful it is.

The picture is by PollyDot, public domain, http://pixabay.com/en/treacle-mustard-275614/?oq=wild%20mustard

Previous survival food in the series: Arrowhead (Sagittaria genus)

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This wild plant gets its name from the shape of the leaves, which are distinctly arrowhead shaped. These are water plants that grow in almost any fresh, clear, slow moving water. They grow from the lowlands all the way up to mountain forests, if there is a good water supply. Arrowheads put up a thick flowering stalk from the base of the plant, and from this, four to 10 small white flowers open up.

The base of the plant anchors itself in the mud at the bottom of the water, often growing at a shallow depth, with the leaves held erect above the water surface. Tubers grow from the main root mass and can grow two or three feet from the main plant, through the mud. The tubers float, if broken off the main plant. Both the stems and the tubers can be eaten, and since the tubers float, collection just amounts to breaking them off and then scooping them up when they come to the surface.

While there are other survival foods that are healthier, arrowheads make a good survival food. The stems can be stir-fried or boiled and the tubers can be washed, sliced and either fried, boiled or baked. The roots are edible raw, as well.

An ounce of the root has just under 30 calories, almost 80 percent of it coming from starches and sugars. This edible wild plant is also a good source of protein and it is quite low in fat. It isn’t packed with vitamins, but it is a good source of iron. Some tribes of American Indians boiled the tubers, pounded them to a pulp and then let the water evaporate. The resultant course, sweetish powder can be used like wheat flower.

The roots will also keep for a couple of weeks if kept cool, so this isn’t a food source that goes bad rapidly. They can also be dried and later boiled in water. Wrapped in a bit of foil, with a pat of butter added, arrowhead tubers are great for cooking in a campfire, much like small potatoes can be, and the cooking time is usually about 10-15 minutes, like with the spuds.

Because of the starch content, this is a good plant for a survivalist, camper or hiker to add to meals to stretch them out and make them more filling. Harvesting the tubers also encourages the plant to produce more, so there is no need to damage the entire plant.

Picture by Amédée Masclef, from Atlas des plantes de France. 1891, public domain because the copyright has expired. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:310_Sagittaria_sagittifolia_L.jpg

The last survival plant in the series: Coltsfoot

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Dead nettles are a European plant that has become naturalized in America and often now grows as a wildflower. Despite the name, this plant isn’t related to stinging nettles. Dead nettle is actually part of the mint family. The plant does have value for survivalists, however.

Dead nettle is an annual plant, normally blooming in the summer. The stems show the connection to the mint family, because they are noticeably and distinctly square in shape. This is very unlike the stems of stinging nettles. Also unlike Urtica dioica, dead nettles don’t ‘sting’. You can gather them with your bare hands without worry.

The stems can grow up to about two and a half feet tall and the lower part of the stem doesn’t have leaves growing from it. The rest of the stem has a multitude of leaves, usually a couple inches in length. The leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stem, and the pair of leaves above or below each pair grow a quarter turn around the stem. The leaves bear a striking resemblance to the deep veined appearance of peppermint leaves or to those of stinging nettles, which is how the plant gets its common name, in the latter case. When the leaves are young, they have a purplish tint that is quite attractive.

The flowers are tube shaped and are white to light purple, including the various shades between the two.

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These plants prefer moist soils and are found growing along canal banks, in gardens, near forests and near streams. This trait is shared with stinging nettles and most kinds of mint.

For food, the plant can be steamed or put in soups and stews. The flavor is very mild, so it is good when served with stronger tasting foods. Steaming it with diced wild chive leaves is a good combination and it goes will with cooked dandelion greens. It can be cooked as a potherb and is edible raw as well. The flowers are also edible and sweet, making them good and colorful additions to green salads. The plant is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, iron and it is very high in antioxidants.

This wild herb has some great medicinal properties, like so many wild foods. Tea made from dead nettles is good for treating inflammations and the tea has pain relieving properties. It is used to treat allergies, too. Additionally, the plant juices are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The plant is astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic and mildly purgative, in addition to the properties already stated.

There is some disagreement among botanists as to whether dead nettles and henbit is the same plant, but is is a rather moot point as both are edible and can be used in the same ways.

This is a good plant for people to become acquainted with. In the event of disaster, dead nettle can be a great food source for people who are trying to survive. It is also a great wild food addition for hikers and campers.

The opening picture is of common dead nettle and it is public domain, taken by Jana, http://pixabay.com/en/dead-nettle-violet-spring-6248/
The second picture shows dead nettle with white blossoms. It was taken by ariesa66, is public domain as well, http://pixabay.com/en/dead-nettle-white-deadnettle-hummel-320306/

The last survival food in the series: Stinging nettles

ImageThis plant gets its common name from the flat, heart-shaped seed pods that were thought to resemble the change purse used by shepherds. Shepherd’s purse is quite common where the ground has been disturbed, including fields, along roads or trails, in gardens and in waste places. It isn’t hard to identify, with lobed or toothed leaves, similar to dandelions, that seldom get more than a couple inches long. The flowers are white and have four petals, with the flower stalk arising from the middle of the plant. The stalk continues to grow with blooms at the top and seed pods lower on the stalk. The pods are actually fruits and they contain the seeds, which are also edible.

The entire plant is edible, though it is most often the young leaves that are harvested, prior to the time the plant blooms. The reason for this is that shepherd’s purse is a member of the mustard family, and like most members of the group, the peppery flavor becomes much more pronounced when the wild herb starts blooming. (This is also common of the other members of the mustard family.)

For a survivalist, this is a plant of good value. Not only is it common and easy to find in most of North America and Europe, it is also quite high in vitamin C, calcium, sulfur and iron. Additionally, it contains acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. The plant is also balanced in regard to the amount of carbohydrates and proteins it contains. The flavor is peppery but good, reminiscent of watercress, which is also a member of the family.

The plant is eaten either as a cooked potherb, as a raw addition to green salads and to flavor other foods, especially soups and stews. It goes great with most wild game, especially venison, bear, grouse and quail. It is also good with fish.

This herb has medicinal properties, though it isn’t commonly used in the United States for that purpose. It is good for use to stop internal and external bleeding, it is reputed to lower blood pressure, it is used to treat diarrhea and it has been effectively used by women who are on menstruating, to help control flow. It can also be used as a diuretic for people who are retaining water. Some American Indian tribes also used it as a mild analgesic. For medicinal purposes, shepherd’s purse can be dried, but it doesn’t retain its medicinal properties long, so it is best to use it fresh.

This is yet another survival plant that is great to eat for hikers and campers. The peppery taste can even be used to great effect on bland foods, to make them more palatable.

Previous survival plants in the series: https://survivingthezombieapocolypse.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/survival-foods-wild-onions/
https://survivingthezombieapocolypse.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/survival-food-mallow-plant/

The picture is by H. Zell, creative commons share alike 1.2 attribution

ImageOne of the necessities if you are trying to survive an apocalypse of any sort is to make sure that you have something nutritious to eat. Thankfully, there are a lot of different wild plants that are quite edible, widespread, easy to identify and even tasty. Among this is a plant called Mallow, also known as Cheeses or Cheeseweed.

There are quite a few species of mallow, which means that one species or another can be found in most habitats and climates. They are also distributed nearly worldwide, excluding only Antarctica. In fact, as many gardeners will attest, once established, it is very hard to get rid of these plants without poisoning the soil.

Common mallow (Malva neglecta) is representative of the mallows. They tend to be low growing plants with a roundish leaf, deep green in color. The tap root is stout and long, and a new plant can arise from even a small piece of the root – part of the reason it is despised by gardeners. The blossoms are usually pinkish-white, normally with five petals. These give way to seeds that are arranged in a segmented circle, not unlike a round of cheese, hence their alternate name. A well-known member of the family is the garden hollyhock, which has a similar appearance to mallow, though usually much larger in all respects. (Hollyhock is also edible.)

The entire mallow plant is edible. Many kids have experienced munching on the raw cheeses. The leaves can be added to salads, raw, or they can be cooked as a potherb. Additionally, they can be added to soups and stews. The cheeses and the roots can also be cooked. When these are cooked, they release a sort of mucilage that can thicken soups or stews. This trait is one of the uses of a member of the family: Okra. The flowers can add a splash of color to salads.

Mallow also has medicinal properties. It is an expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and very mildly laxative. For these purposes, it is often made into a tea at a rate of one tablespoon of the leaves to a cup of boiling water. The leaves can also be dried for this purpose. The flavor is bland and the tea can be sweetened with honey. Externally, mallow is emollient and demulcent, so it can be rubbed on dry or chapped skin as well as on cuts, scrapes, insect bites and punctures.

This is a multi-purpose plant for survivalists and others. The plant is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. This makes it useful for hikers and campers, as well as for people who are just trying to stretch their meals.

It is good to become acquainted with this wild herb and to learn to identify it on sight. That way, should you ever find yourself in a survival situation, you will have at least one identifiable source of usually-plentiful food.

(The picture is by Soulignac (Gironde, France) 2004 – GFDL, creative commons share-alike, unported)

There are a number of things that most survivalists keep in their emergency kits. A lot of people who haven’t received any survival training are kind of surprised at one of the very handy tool’s though: A plumber’s candle.

As a nation, the United States just came through one of the most bitterly cold winters on record for at least the last 50 years. This would have been a perfect time for people to have kept a few plumber’s candles handy, and there really isn’t a bad time to have a few in the ekit (emergency kit).

These are the candles that are usually less than a half foot tall and a bit less than an inch in diameter, sometimes sold as ‘8-hour candles’. I’ve never seen one actually burn that long, but the point is that they produce a surprising amount of heat and light. It is important to note that we weren’t talking about the little decorative candles or those that will burn up fast. Here are just a couple scenarios where they could be life savers:

You and your family are home, temperatures are sub-zero outside and the power goes out. You get the family into the smallest room in the house, probably the bathroom, with blankets and such, knowing that it is easier to heat a small space than a big one. You open the window just a little, also knowing that venting is important to get rid of excess carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, then you light the candle. The candle provides heat and light, and can actually keep the room above freezing, despite the outside temperatures. (Body heat would also help.) This could keep everyone from freezing to death before help arrived.

Another scenario: You are driving along the highway with the family, on icy roads and with snow falling. The snowfall turns into a blizzard and unavoidably, you find yourself stuck in a snow bank with snow rapidly covering the car. Help will probably arrive, but it might take hours before it does. You know that running the car so you can use the heater is a bad idea. You’ll soon run out of gas, and in the process, the carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfate from the engine would reach toxic levels in less than a half hour.

So you roll down the window just a little, again for ventilation, turn off the engine, and pull out the handy candle. Burning the candle can keep the compartment warm. It can also be used to heat food, if there is any (a good emergency kit will have at least some food in it). It can also be used to dry out clothing, such as socks. It can even be used to melt some snow in order to have water to drink.

In both cases, you’ve turned a potentially deadly situation into merely an inconvenient and frustrating one. Your chances of survival increase many times.

All of this is possible because of including a candle in the emergency gear. A lot of people don’t think about including one. There are many other great ways that candles can keep you safe, too, and I’ll be writing about some of them.

The question is, do you have one or two 8-hour candles in your emergency gear for the home, office and car?