copyrights by Ilkka Seikku
Very often people ask me about wildfood and wild herbs. Edible plants, roots, berries, seeds etc and also insects have become, for some reason nowdays interesting among many people.
So, I was thinking that I can share some of my knowledge based on my own experience, with you here in my blog. I´ll put different kind of instructions about how to find and use wildfood.
So keep following this blog!
Here in Finland, we have a lot of traditions about using wild food and herbs in everyday use. But the knowledge about eating insects is almost totally missing in old writings and folklore. But most surely finnish people have use also insects as a food. Missing tradition might be a result from finnish mentality, where you can never admit that you are poor. In old ages there was a real lack for almost everything; food, warm, clothes etc.
Even today there is still old people who have eat bark of pine and roots of poisonous calla to survive. In that time it was shameful to admit that your family have no "real" food, even almost everyone did suffer for at least some kind of lack for food. So the traditional information based on real experience has been forget on purpose, I think.
Today there is a lot of survival books and books based on some other countries traditions about wild food. A lot of people have interest about this subject, but only a few really use wild food in everyday. Finnish nature is one of the most unpolluted and cleanest in world. We have lakes, rivers, streams and water spring with totally clean water. We have forests so clean that you can collect mushrooms, berries, plants etc and eat them without any fear about pollutions. But stil most of people do think that food straight from the cleanest place possible, is dirty and it feels weird to eat it. Finnish people mostly go to a mall and buy stuff they eat. For example grasshoppers or mussels. No one collects those from nature but they buy this stuff from oriental food shops!
Ribbed pine borers larva
At the moment it´s winter time and many thinks that there is no insects to eat in finnish forests. But yes there are. This winter is weird.. all the snow has now melted away and it feels more like autumn than winter..
Anyway; I decided to show You that it´s possible to find edible insects also in winter.
There is a lot of spruces in Finnish forests. Spruce is a tree that for example carpenter ants larvas and ribbed pine borers larvas uses for food. Fallen large spruces are great items to find these larvas. Ribbed pine borers larvas are usually more than one centimeter long and quite fat. They taste somehow sweet and are very healthy food and costs nothing!
So, firs we need to find a fallen spruce. Also stumps of a spruces are good place to find some larvas.
Just rip of some of the spruces bark and you´ll find these little guys under it.
There were also few grown up carpenter ants, also those are edible, but now we concentrate only for ribbed pine borers larvas.
In a few minutes I found quite a lot of these larvas. These are very easy to find after You know where and how to find these.
As I said before, it´s possible to eat these even raw. But I want to give just an example how to coo these so that even the most sensitive guy can eat these.
So, first wash those. Use fresh, clean and cold water. This will remove all the dirt away, even the "dirt" is just spruces bark and it´s not harmful in any way.
Next put some salt in to the water and heat the water to boil. Now put larvas in to the boiling water and boil them about 2-3minutes. After that these larvas are easy to eat. I think these are more tasteful right now, than after roasting.
If you still think that it feels disgusting to eat these put some butter or oil on the pan and very quickly roast larvas. Just a few seconds, so that there will be beautiful color. If You roast them too much, they will be too dry and tastes like charcoal.
I use always fat I have taken from goats or deers and clean it so that it will last forever.
And here it´s ready to eat. Very tasteful snacks or if you´ll collect more of them, you´ll have a real lunch. These larvas can be used also as a candy if you glaze these with sugar.
Once there was a time in Finland, when squirrel was really worth of money. And I mean REALLY worth of money; the furs of squirrels were exactly in the same position as money is in now days.
And after skinning the squirrel and placing the fur to dry, also rest of the squirrel was placed to dry. It was easy to storage and use as a food later.
Of course fresh kills were very often cooked immediately.
Today squirrel is very rare food to use in Finnish families. Hamburgers and pizza are much more familiar to most of Finnish people.
But still there are few stubborn woodmen which eats what they catch. =)
Here I want to show You one very simple recipe, how to make squirrel soup with wild herbs.
First we need a squirrel, of course. (I choose not to put here graphic pics about skinning the squirrel, but if You really want those pics, let me know and I´ll put those in here!)I have to say, that I´ll never kill a squirrel unless it´s a matter of a real survival situation. This particular squirrel was hitted by a car which was driving in front of me so I was lucky enough to get this squirrel immediately from there. I don´t suggest to eat roadkills if you don´t know when and how it has died. Squirrel is harmless and beautiful animal which has always belong to a Finnish nature, and still does.
So the first thing is to let all the blood away(little cut in the side of the neck) and remove the intestines.
Squirrel is then cut in six pieces + tail in two pieces. Use only a puukko or a knife to do this and don´t brake any bones!! It´s possible to cut these pieces without crushing any bones. Crushed bones are very sharp and tiny little bone pieces are not nice to eat!
I have heard many times that squirrel tastes bitter and it can´t be eaten.
That´s because those people have not flush the meats properly!
Pieces needs to flush clean from all the blood. Water should be totally clean when putting meats in the water. Because of the squirrels nutrition the blood includes bark acids, which gives very bitter taste to meat.
But that problem is easy to solve; just flush the meats in cold fresh water many times. After flushing it´s also possible to make the meat a bit more tender to eat by soking meats in milk or dark beer.
If you choose to just flush the meats, like I did now, boil the meats in light salt water about 10 minutes. Remove the water and place the meats in new light salted water. This "water change"removes all the bitterness. Let the meats boil now 30 minutes.
Take the meats out from the water and roast meats in butter so that those get´s a nice color
Pan needs to be very hot!
Put meats back in the boiling water and remember to add some butter in too. Squirrels meat includes no fat at all so to get good soup, it needs some butter or other real fat.
Boil meats now about one hour, or as long as it takes to make the flesh to drops from the bones.
Then take the bone away and put the meats back in the boiling water.
Here are some herbs I like to use with squirrel. Spruce sprouts (gives a nice citron taste), yarrow leaves(a bit like black pepper) and shepherd´s purse(very light acidic taste which goes nice with squirrol´s meat)
Shepherd´s purse can be added quite much, but be careful with spruce sprouts and yarrow. Add those just a little bit and in very finely cutted.
Take some potatoes and cut those in pieces. Add the meats, herbs and potatoes in to the boiling water and boil as long as it takes that potatoes are ready(about 30 minutes). Add again some butter in to the soup and if you want to get a REAL good soap, add some cream in soup!
If you want to use wild plant as a potatoes I suggest(in Finnish nature) to use for example cow parsley´s roots. These roots are very bitter tasted and you need to boil them at least three-four times and change water every time. Third or fourth boiling needs to be at least one hour to get roots soft enough to eat.
When potatoes(or wild plant root´s) are ready, let the soap cool down little by little and heat it slowly again when you start to eat it. This soap get´s even better after it has been in cold for a one night. Then heat it again and enjoy the great taste of traditional Finnish wildfood, which was basic food for the real woodmen in a time when squirrel was worth of money!
Summer in Finland is short, but very rich, what it comes to wild herbs.In every yard there can be found these two great salad plants; chickweed(Stellaria media) and shepherd´s purse(Capsella bursa-pastoris).
Both have nice mild taste and those are great in salad´s.
Shepherd´s purse "Lutukka" in Finnish
Chickweed "Pihatähtimö" in Finnish
Here is one way to get awesome salad which goes as a lounch.
Take a handfull of chick´s weed and cut the lowest part´s away. Also collect some shepherd´s purses. Try to rip only the flowers and the seeds.(don´t worry if there comes some stalks too, just make sure you don´t take the bottom parts, which are quite tough to eat)
Cut chick´s weed in 2cm pieces.
Mix chickweeds and shepherd´s purses together.
Add some oil and mix. (oil is not necessary, but gives nice composition for salad.
Add dehydrated nettle seeds(Urtica dioica) to give some hazel taste.
Cut a smoked fish in pieces and mix it in to the salad. (also bird is fine)
Feta cheese and a little drop of honey makes this perfect.
Mix all together with a spoon made of juniper.
Enjoy the taste of nature!
Pine bark flour
Pine bark flour has been very important wildfood in Finland. There has been couple serious famine years in Finland; in 1696-1697 and "The Great Famine Years in 1866-1868. Pine bark flour, "pettu" in Finnish, saved a lot of people in those times.
Here is a video where I make pine bark flour in wilderness
Give me comments if You want me to make a video how to make bread and porridge using pine bark flour and iceland moss!
Pine bark- iceland moss porridge
So, now we have some pine bark flour. But what to do with it?One of the most traditional foods in Finland is porridge. Almost every food material can be make as a porridge and almost every food material has been made as a porridge! Seeds of wild plants, roots grinder to flour, dried leaves and even meat and fish has been cooked as a porridge.
Porridge is very healthy and easy to make. The real survival food, but more than recommendable as a everyday food which keeps you healthy and in a good shape!
No needs for those modern trend diets which changes almost every day..Everything you need grows in nature and just waits you to find them!
First we need to select the flour we use with porridge. Here are fine pine bark flour for porridge at the left and rougher bread flour at the right.
I did separate those with a sieve.
I have collect some iceland moss and prepared it to be eatable.
Many people say that iceland moss is almost disgusting to eat, but Im sure that they would not say so, if thay just make it in right way. There is very fine flavor in it and I can say it´s actually very good!Iceland moss is maybe the best source of carbonhydrate what it comes with Finnish wildplants.
It´s also good to know that after about two days of using iceland moss, human can use all the carbonhydrates from iceland moss. So, don´t mind some flatulence in first day, it´s just a way your body says to you that "Keep going! this is the real food and Im trying to blow those poisons away which you have collect here by eating all kind of industrial sh#t!" =D
Let´s take 1 decilitre of iceland moss and 3decilitres of pine bark flour.
And now some water in the pot and both, pine bark flour and iceland moss in water.
It´s good to let them soak there about one hour. But if you are in a survival situation and there is no time for that, just start boiling immediately.
Let it boil slowly about half of an hour and mix often. If it seems like the water fades away too much, just add more water.Now add just a pinch of salt. If there is no salt available you can also use for example coltsfoots dried leaves which have been burned to ash! That´s a great salt substitute. You need to add it a little bit more than salt.
After the composition of porridge is nice and smooth, it´s ready!
To get the sweet flavor of pine bark flour(there is actually quite a lot of sugar in pine bark) poach porridge in very little fire 30-60minutes. Now it can be eat as any porridge.
But let´s keep going.. Because I really want You to try these foods, I wan´t to show You how to make these foods good to eat even you have use to eat lot of sugar, industrial materials and flavor from all ind of additives.
Take 2 decilitres of rye flour and add it in the porridge.
Also add a handfull of lingonberries in the porridge. Cranberry and cloudberry are great with this porridge too.
If You are still very uncertain and fearful sissy, add two teaspoons of sugar. Happy now? =)
Let boil about 15 minutes and mix all the time.
Now it´s sweet and nice to eat.
You still making faces while eating?
OK! Let´s try this if you really are like a little baby..
Add two decilitres of full cream milk( no, not some fat-free beverage, but real milk with all of it´s fat there).
Cream is good! Fat is good! Carbonhydrates saves your life! But those are good only if You don´t eat all the junk that is available in markets. Learn to be hungry and realize that it´s totally unnatural that people have so much food available all the time in countries which are fat enough to for example read this blog! ;)
Boil as long as it takes the composition to be smooth. Let porridge to poach about one hour.
Add some frozen lingonberries and enjoy the smooth and cocoa-like taste of healthy!
(Sorry about my food sermon inside the text every now and then..) ;D