Archive for the 'Foods' Category

Nov 02 2007

Opening a Leg Bone

Published by under Foods

The leg bone (cannon bone) is an excellent resource, with it you can make large and straigth bone tools. You can make the blanks in several ways, some will be more time consuming than the other. There are occations where you would want the entire bone to retain most of it’s structure, but in this case, we are going for long and straight pieces for arrowheads, spearheads, knives etc…

Put either end of the bone into a fire, I suspended it from the pothanger on this occation. You want it to char quite a bit in that end, but not have the flames travel further up the bone. Heat makes bone brittle. Which is why we are doing this. After you have done one end, do the other.

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Heat gently over the middle also, just to tighten up the membranes resting on the bone.

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Pad a stone with buckskin and strike the rounded end of the bone off with a hammerstone.

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Take a wedge shaped stone anvil and rest the bone at the depression where the large tendons have been removed. Tap it gently with on top with the hammerstone, from one end to another, moving the wedge so it sits directly underneath the blow of the hammerstone. When you think you have weakened it sufficiently, do a heavy blow to the bone close to where the rounded end was. This will more than likely make the bone crack all the way from one end to another, probably also breaking to the side on a few places. Still, you can expect at least one large side from each bone. The rest will be long strips of bone, suitable for all sorts of purposes.

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If you want to have slightly more reliable results, groove the bone on both sides first.

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The marrow will be mostly raw, but slightly cooked close to the ends. Eat it all as long as the bone is fresh. Yummy!

3 responses so far

Oct 28 2007

Berries

Published by under Foods

First, thank you very much for your donation Ian!

There isn’t a lot of plants suitable for human consumption in the Boreal forest. In the area we are talking about, which is at around 600 metres above sea level in the interior of Telemark county, Norway, various berries is pretty much the only plant worth paying any attention to.

The berries of this region are:

  • Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus): Very good, and extremely abundant. Stores well dried.
  • Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea): A bit tart, sweeter when dried, very abundant.

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  • Bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum): Not as sweet as blueberry, but bigger, very abundant.
  • Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum): Fairly sweet, but the skins are acrid, contains a lot of fluid, so I usually just suck them dry when thirsty and spit out the skins. Very abundant on the higher elevations.

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  • Juniper (Juniperus communis): Strong and spicy taste, only good in small portions or as seasoning on meat or fish. Very common some years
  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi): Bland in taste, fairly abundant on higher elevations.
  • Alpine Bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpina): Bland taste. Not so abundant, but found on high elevations.
  • Raspberry (Rubus idaeus): Very, very sweet. Very abundant on the lower elevations.
  • Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus): An aquired taste, sweet but also lightly sour. Some years very abundant on the higher elevations.
  • Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca): Very sweet, not abundant, but exists on the lower elevations.
  • Bird cherry (Prunus padus): Extremely acrid, unfit for human consumption, but according to Ray Mears’ Wild Food they can be processed.
  • Wild Rose (Rosa sp): Difficult to eat because of the seeds. Better to use for tea. Found on lower elevations.

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  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Very tart, better if dried. Very common.
  • Small Cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris): Fairly sweet and good tasting after the first frost. Quite abundant on lower elevations.
  • Mezereon (Daphne mezereum): Only found rarely at lower elevation. Poisonous.

There are at least two additionaly types of berries, of which I unfortunately can’t remember either the Norwegian or the English name of. They are not abundant enough to be of much interest though. Also, there is one type of berry which remain unidentified. But this berry only grows at one specific location. Please help me with identifying it. Photos below:

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One response so far

Oct 26 2007

Food Preservation

Published by under Foods

In the wilderness you will eat the majority of the foods fresh because of two things:

  • You will usually never procure more much more food than you need in the next few days.
  • You can’t carry with you all that much food to the next camp location.

However, for the leaner times of the year; late winter and mid-summer you might need to store a little to avoid starvation. Also, if you shoot a big animal or a large quantity of them, you may want to store the surplus. The primary method for this is drying. You can dry almost everything, some things are not equally suitable for this though. Juicy berries, like cloudberries and raspberries will almost disappear into a stony mass if they don’t ferment first. Cloudberries and Cowberries (lingon in Swedish or tytteber in Norwegian) store quite well fresh under refrigerated conditions. Few of the wild berries in this area has enough pectin in them either to be suitable for the Ray Mears Wild Food method of making fruit jelly. But I have not tested this. Maybe if mixed with pectin rich berries, it may work (I know one berry I believe contains quite a lot of it). Drying berries and roots can be done spread out directly in the sun. Many berries will sweeten considerably after drying.

First a warning: Never dry cooked meat or cook meat during drying, serious food poisoning can occur! My method of drying meat is, except in the late fall to early spring when freeze drying will occur naturally, to smoke them a little in the lavvo (tipi) during the evening to keep the flies detered and have them drying in an airy place out in the sun during the day. If the flies are congregating, light a smokey fire underneath to keep them away. Don’t use conifers, it will make the meat or fish taste very poorly indeed. Either cut the meat into strips (more hassle, more drying surface) or cut them into thin slabs. For the quickest possible drying it is eitherway important to get it as thin as possible. Fish can be dried in halves, cut at the spine. Bigger fish is fileted further. Dry food does not only store pretty much indefinitely, but it is much more portable, due to the lighter weight and reduced size. Eat it as is, in small amounts, or reconstitute over a couple of days and cook normally. If the dried meat is from carnivores or omnivores, you should never eat it without cooking it first.

Photos: Brown trout and Black grouse smoking in the lavvo.

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Short time storage usually isn’t a problem with wild foods. Wild meat is generally slower to rot than domestic meats, so you can let a grouse hang for several weeks without any deterioration during the colder periods of the year. Say mid-September to April (in the Norwegian mountains). Except this period you will have to be a little more careful due to flies. Most wild plants store pretty well fresh too. Fish you have to be a little more careful about. Especially fat fish.

Photo: Foods drying. Fresh fish hanging on a branch to the right.

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Oct 21 2007

Cleaning Fish

Published by under Foods

Fish is an extremely reliable source of protein in the area of where I roam. Killing it can be done either by hitting the head with a stick or by ripping the throat open. Cleaning it can be done in seconds using this method. Of course, with some practise.

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Hold the fish with your off hand, belly up. Stick a knife into the anus and cut up to you are nearly at the throat.

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Stick your thumb from the inside and out the throat. Pull off the front fins alon with all of the insides of the fish. You can eat everything of the insides also, except the digestive system.

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Be careful to free all of the guts free in the lower end.

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Scrape out the bloodlike substance (really the kidneys) clinging to the back of the fish with your nail. Rinse the fish in water and it is now ready for cooking.

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Do however also try to cook one on a stick with all the guts inside. I have done that many times and it imparts a pretty good, slightly salty flavour to the flesh.

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Oct 19 2007

Plucking, Cleaning and Cooking Bird

Published by under Foods

Making a bird ready for cooking is a simple procedure, but in case anyone are uncertain of how it is done I thought I’d illustrate it. Plucking is normally the most sensible way since it contains the fats in the skin, very important nutrition for people living off the land.

Pluck the bird by pulling a few feathers at the time in the direction of the lay of the feathers. I like to pluck the breast, thighs and back first, then take the wings in the end. Some people use water when plucking, but I feel that only makes a mess. Try not to tear the skin, though it isn’t a disaster if you do. Cut off the head afterwards or leave it on if you want to.

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In the front, tear out a little piece of skin and pull off the storage stommach. Cut the connecting “gut” down to the abdomen. Pull out the windpipe from the neck.

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Make an incision around the anus and make a cut further up towards the breastbone. Pull out the guts. You can leave all the other organs in the bird while coocking it.

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The muscle/grinding stommach can also be eaten. Cut it open and just take off the inner skin of the stommach along with the contents. Wash it properly afterwards. No other part of the bird needs washing unless a shot has pierced guts or similar.

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I have found a good way of slow cooking the bird on a stick. Take a stick and leave a flexible branch on and stick it into the bird. The branch resting inside the bird will keep the stick from rotating without the bird following that action. Although I didn’t do that on this occation, I recommend tying up the wings and the legs, or they will become excessively dry.

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Keep it over coals for 2-3 hours, for a chicken sized bird. Use decidious woods for the coals, beaver sticks for instance, so that any flames will not leave foul tasting soot on the skin of the bird.

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This particular black grouse tasted excellently by the way, 😉

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