I was challenged in a friendly competition to put my naturalist knowledge into action and make my best possible meal in an Autumn Foraging, Fishing, Hunting and Camping scenario. Recognizing that native people must have eaten over a 100 different wild foods in a year, a more varied diet than many or most of us today, I wanted to try and incorporate as many foods as I could possible find in this truly local meal.
I was able to create a menu composed of 24 fresh and local wild crafted ingredients (18 plants, 2 mushrooms, 4 animals).
Animals: Trout, Deer, Squirrel, Bear (lard)
Plants: Stinging Wood Nettle, Lambs Quarters, Onion Grass, Wild Apple, Autumn Olive, White Pine, Mixed Acorn, Black Walnut, Wintergreen, Sweet Fern, Sweet Birch, Spice Bush, Sassafrass, Garlic Mustard, Wild Leek, Staghorn Sumac, Juniper Berries, Fox Grape (water)
Fungus: Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods
The meal has been cooked over a split oak wood fire that was lit with a white pine bow drill friction fire. Bear grease was used as the cooking oil.
AUTUMN BUSHCRAFT FORAGING MENU
Salad & Soup (Served with a Sweet Fern Tea)
Squirrel stuffed with Autumn Olive, Juniper Berries, Wild Apple and Stinging Nettle surrounded by Hen and Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms. (Bacon Wrapped and covered in tinfoil and cooked in the coals)
Desert (Served with Tripple S Tea made of Sweetbirch, Spicebush & Sassafrass)
Acorn Bannock Tart made with Black Walnuts and Grape Vine water. Topped with Wild Apple, Fox Grape and Autumn Olive fruit.
Part 1: Wild Foraging Harvest
Part 2: Wild Foraged Feast
New Specials added Seasonally!
Foragers Spice Kit aka The Spice of Life: Spicebush Berries dried and chopped finely, Sweet Fern dried and powdered, Mountain Mint dried and powdered, Wild Ginger dried and powdered or infused into oil, Sumac Seed Heads, Garlic Mustard Seeds, Bay Berry Leaves and Seeds, Juniper berries.
- Well it sure would have been easier to do this with a team! The gathering of ingredients took exploration in multiple habitats and would surely be collected throughout the seasons and not necessarily in a hurry for one specific meal.
- The changing of the seasons made collection a challenge as well as competing with wildlife and the changing appearance and growing location of plants. Focusing on lower elevations and wetlands allowed for the harvesting of certain species that would otherwise be too far gone at higher elevations or north facing slopes.
- The biggest help was familiarity with local habitats that reduced the gamble of trying to find specific plants and made for easier and faster acquisition.
- Survival needs are often discussed to include Shelter, Water, Fire and Food in that progression. However, once you have the top three of four priorities met the majority of your time will be spent on food gathering.
- The easiest of ingredients to find were mushrooms, nettles, acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts. I could have spent the majority of my time gathering and processing nuts in one general location (while simultaneously fishing) and happened upon a few other ingredients along the way. This would have been the most calorie efficient way to go.
Leave a reply below and let me know what you think!