T Nation

Food From the Wild

I’m not talking about hunting although that of course does come into it, nothing like bagging fish or rabbits or bigger prey to put meat on the table!

But what about the less eaten creatures? The likes of Rook (shot as ‘branchers’ - the adolecent birds just before they take to the air). Easy to take out with a .22 air rifle and they taste amazing.

Squirrel is real good too - caught in the same way.

Then on to wild plants - here in the UK there is an abundance of great stuff to be eaten just by looking round the wilder areas of the countryside - or anywhere that is a good few yards away from the road.

I picked huge amounts of berries a week or so ago from a disused railway track that runs near my house. I got blackberries and elderberries by the sack full all for free which have been mashed down and are now slowly turning into wine.

There is a small unpoluted brook that runs close to where I was collecting the fruit and I saw watercress by the ton. I also dug up a horseraddish plant, the root of which will be grated and made into amazing horseraddish sauce for with a beef joint (If I could get away with it I’d bag one of those cows I saw too but that’s going a bit far as they are owned by someone else).

I also like hunting out mushrooms (with the aid of a very good book to ID them safely). I got a giant puffball mushroom last year that was a good foot across. I scooped the innards out and stuffed it with ground beef and tomatoes and baked it slowly in the oven.

I only ever take what I need and avoid the rarer species of plants no matter how edible they are but there is so much good food to be had that you simply cannot buy in the shops.

Since I started this - shall we call it hobby? - I’ve learnt so much about the food that we used to eat as a nation that just gets completely passed over now. I’m not sure why exactly but so many people assume that if you cannot buy it in the supermarket you cannot eat it.

Anybody else do this or is it just me being pikey!?

I ate a huuuuuge piece of sumac once, didn’t turn out so well.

[quote]NeelyDan wrote:
I ate a huuuuuge piece of sumac once, didn’t turn out so well.[/quote]

Lol - Not a great idea. Good dried as a flavouring though. I believe in India they use it for making a sort of lemonade.

Meh, the only berries that grow around here are the kind that make the next few days very uncomfortable.

I do have an affinity for bear meat, though. Not something that can be bought, but I know a few hunters that get me some every year.

[quote]Squiggles wrote:
Meh, the only berries that grow around here are the kind that make the next few days very uncomfortable.

I do have an affinity for bear meat, though. Not something that can be bought, but I know a few hunters that get me some every year. [/quote]

I’ve never tried bear meat - what’s the flavour like?

There’s almost always things to eat though no matter where you are. Near the coast? Try the local seaweed.

How about snails? Almost every species of snail is edible. The ones found in gardens anywhere in the world should be purged by putting them in a bucket with some lettuce leaves to eat for a few days. Rinse them off then into the pot they go. A quick simmer in some garlic, white wine and single cream with a little seasoning and you are good to go. Just use a darning needle to pull them out of their shells.

Incidentally, most of the snails consumed in France are farmed in the UK.

Weren’t you in the SAS or something? I know you have a military background, so I am curious how much of this Man vs Wild attitude has to do with the military service, and how much of it is part of your upbringing.

I remember shooting some black breasted pheasant in the desert with my cousins, marinating it in yogurt and saffron and grilling it over a brick fire pit.

Nice to have when everyone else is stuck with fruits and bread and day old feta cheese. Suckers.

great topic.!!!

people see me as uncivilized,or a hillbilly for this same thing.

I live in the arizona desert.for a few years it was only me and a couple of other homes and we had an abundance of elk,javelinas(wild pig),rabbit,Prairie Dogs,snakes,lizards
you name it.

people are moving in around me as large sub divisions but we still have the snakes,lizards,rabbits and praire dogs.we also have quail and dove
the larger game have since gone more west to where there is less people but it iw well within a days walk to find larger game.

I have made praire dog stew and rabbit stew many times.
snake,while not my favorite because of all the bones is actually quite tasty.

the 3-4 pound jack rabbits are they best for quality and quanity of meat.
its very greasy though so best to roast it outside over mesquite branches cut from the wild trees that grow on the
maybe its the teachings of my millitant father that threw me into the wilderness when I was small to learn how to live.but I walk outside in the morning and I dont see pests,I see tonights dinner its just a matter of me taking it.

yesterday I had a quail dinner actually.
they love to eat on the patch of clover I have out
and I pick them off with an air rifle
I have built a chicken wire trap,with a one-way door that if anything larger than a small house cat walks in to get scraps of vegies inside they get stuck unharmed.
I go out there and look about 2-3 am every morning and if its what I want I keep it if its like a small cat I let it go unharmed.

Interesting thread …

I seen on TV there are lots of people going back to nature and consuming foods that available locally. Some even claim that they feel better because of it. What you consume is often culture related. Look at the Chinese they eat different animals dicks. How many of you would even consider doing that?

I think its great people get food that is just outside in your own back yard. Also growing some is a good idea. I can’t wait till I buy a house so I can do that myself.

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:
Weren’t you in the SAS or something? I know you have a military background, so I am curious how much of this Man vs Wild attitude has to do with the military service, and how much of it is part of your upbringing.

I remember shooting some black breasted pheasant in the desert with my cousins, marinating it in yogurt and saffron and grilling it over a brick fire pit.

Nice to have when everyone else is stuck with fruits and bread and day old feta cheese. Suckers.[/quote]

I think this came from before any military service although survival was drilled into us.

I used to go berry picking with my dad when I was like 6 years old and I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with food.

I guess it comes from there but I only recently rediscovered my love of foraging for food.

I’m a big fan of a chap here in the UK called Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who did a series of programs starting with “A chef on the wild side” where he basically just travelled the country looking for wild things to eat.

He then went on to produce the “River Cottage” series where he tried his hand at being a Dorset smallholder. He reared cattle on a small scale, grew some crops, and relied on what the wilds could provide for the rest.

I’d like to live that sort of lifestyle. It’s certainly harder work than what I do now and there is little money in it so I would have to do some sort of other job too but I’m hoping I can take on some small programming jobs working from home to earn just enough cash to pay for things that you really need cash for.

The rest I’d like to grow myself and get some cows, pigs, sheep and chickens etc.

I’ve seen some amazing property within my price range with plenty of acres and enough living space. The one I particularly like has about 6 acres of land, a couple of barns, stables and about 250ft of stream running through it.

about going back to the wild.

I am actually planning to live “off grid” I will sell everything I own buy a home on some remote land,(where its cooler of course) and live off wha tis around my house.

I garden,catch game and know how to find and harvest water what more do you need.

a litle work to live truly free.
thats how people before us did it,why cant we?
I think catching game is a great way to lower food costs.and its fun.
I mean how many kids grow up playing with bigs or catching lizards.now why not eat them? that afterall is what we are made to do.

[quote]Nich wrote:
great topic.!!!

people see me as uncivilized,or a hillbilly for this same thing.

I live in the arizona desert.for a few years it was only me and a couple of other homes and we had an abundance of elk,javelinas(wild pig),rabbit,Prairie Dogs,snakes,lizards
you name it.

people are moving in around me as large sub divisions but we still have the snakes,lizards,rabbits and praire dogs.we also have quail and dove
the larger game have since gone more west to where there is less people but it iw well within a days walk to find larger game.

I have made praire dog stew and rabbit stew many times.
snake,while not my favorite because of all the bones is actually quite tasty.

the 3-4 pound jack rabbits are they best for quality and quanity of meat.
its very greasy though so best to roast it outside over mesquite branches cut from the wild trees that grow on the
maybe its the teachings of my millitant father that threw me into the wilderness when I was small to learn how to live.but I walk outside in the morning and I dont see pests,I see tonights dinner its just a matter of me taking it.
yesterday I had a quail dinner actually.
they love to eat on the patch of clover I have out
and I pick them off with an air rifle
I have built a chicken wire trap,with a one-way door that if anything larger than a small house cat walks in to get scraps of vegies inside they get stuck unharmed.
I go out there and look about 2-3 am every morning and if its what I want I keep it if its like a small cat I let it go unharmed.

[/quote]

Awesome Nich - you think just like me. Even though I live in a town there are plenty of places where I pass greenery on my travels and I can’t help but look at it to see if there’s rabbits or mushrooms or plants to eat.

“I see tonights dinner” Lol - perfect.

[quote]dirtbag wrote:
Interesting thread …

I seen on TV there are lots of people going back to nature and consuming foods that available locally. Some even claim that they feel better because of it. What you consume is often culture related. Look at the Chinese they eat different animals dicks. How many of you would even consider doing that?

I think its great people get food that is just outside in your own back yard. Also growing some is a good idea. I can’t wait till I buy a house so I can do that myself. [/quote]

Totally agree.

I’m not sure that eating like this makes you feel better as such. I don’t eat processed food and rarely venture down the aisles in supermarkets (all the good stuff seems to be round the edge and the processed crap is in the middle).

I think it’s simply that a shift eating healthier foods makes people say they feel better.

There’s nothing like growing a crop of corn or other vegetables yourself and bringing them perfectly cooked to the table! Even if you only grow a few plants or have a window box to grow herbs - it’s all good!

[quote]Renton wrote:
Nich wrote:
great topic.!!!

people see me as uncivilized,or a hillbilly for this same thing.

I live in the arizona desert.for a few years it was only me and a couple of other homes and we had an abundance of elk,javelinas(wild pig),rabbit,Prairie Dogs,snakes,lizards
you name it.

people are moving in around me as large sub divisions but we still have the snakes,lizards,rabbits and praire dogs.we also have quail and dove
the larger game have since gone more west to where there is less people but it iw well within a days walk to find larger game.

I have made praire dog stew and rabbit stew many times.
snake,while not my favorite because of all the bones is actually quite tasty.

the 3-4 pound jack rabbits are they best for quality and quanity of meat.
its very greasy though so best to roast it outside over mesquite branches cut from the wild trees that grow on the
maybe its the teachings of my millitant father that threw me into the wilderness when I was small to learn how to live.but I walk outside in the morning and I dont see pests,I see tonights dinner its just a matter of me taking it.
yesterday I had a quail dinner actually.
they love to eat on the patch of clover I have out
and I pick them off with an air rifle
I have built a chicken wire trap,with a one-way door that if anything larger than a small house cat walks in to get scraps of vegies inside they get stuck unharmed.
I go out there and look about 2-3 am every morning and if its what I want I keep it if its like a small cat I let it go unharmed.

Awesome Nich - you think just like me. Even though I live in a town there are plenty of places where I pass greenery on my travels and I can’t help but look at it to see if there’s rabbits or mushrooms or plants to eat.

“I see tonights dinner” Lol - perfect.[/quote]

about bear.
I have had bear once and I kind of have a “thing” about eating carnivores or omnivores.I dont know why it is just weird to me

bear is tastey though its kind of gamey.depending on what they eat its actually alot like beef.its red meat,the raw meat has a greasy feel to it but if cooked over a fire its not an issue.

how i made it was ,seared it on both sides on a hot flame.
then moved it over to some warm coals to finish it off,It was well done with a tiny tinge of pink in it alot like a good steak.

I seasoned it with salt,pepper and a dash of garlic powder.
was quite good.

[quote]Renton wrote:
Squiggles wrote:
Meh, the only berries that grow around here are the kind that make the next few days very uncomfortable.

I do have an affinity for bear meat, though. Not something that can be bought, but I know a few hunters that get me some every year.

I’ve never tried bear meat - what’s the flavour like?

There’s almost always things to eat though no matter where you are. Near the coast? Try the local seaweed.

How about snails? Almost every species of snail is edible. The ones found in gardens anywhere in the world should be purged by putting them in a bucket with some lettuce leaves to eat for a few days. Rinse them off then into the pot they go. A quick simmer in some garlic, white wine and single cream with a little seasoning and you are good to go. Just use a darning needle to pull them out of their shells.[/quote]

Depends on how old the bear is and when you kill it. If you get a younger one in the spring, after it’s had a good share of berries and grass, the meat is sweat, and tastes really good with certain recipes.

I’m allergic to seaweed, found that out the hard way. It gives me severe heartburn for hours.

Snails? Never thought of that. Actually sounds intriguing. How long do they have to cook? Or, how do you tell when they’re cooked?

[quote]dirtbag wrote:
Interesting thread …

I seen on TV there are lots of people going back to nature and consuming foods that available locally. Some even claim that they feel better because of it. What you consume is often culture related. Look at the Chinese they eat different animals dicks. How many of you would even consider doing that?

[/quote]

There are more than a few on T-Nation that eat dick on a regular basis, or at least think about it a lot.

We have a large deer population around my neighborhood. I like to go out early in the morning and walk my dog. We often stop and gnaw on some carreon together until the sun comes up and the crows and turkey vultures gather and chase us away.

DB

[quote]Squiggles wrote:
Renton wrote:
Squiggles wrote:
Meh, the only berries that grow around here are the kind that make the next few days very uncomfortable.

I do have an affinity for bear meat, though. Not something that can be bought, but I know a few hunters that get me some every year.

I’ve never tried bear meat - what’s the flavour like?

There’s almost always things to eat though no matter where you are. Near the coast? Try the local seaweed.

How about snails? Almost every species of snail is edible. The ones found in gardens anywhere in the world should be purged by putting them in a bucket with some lettuce leaves to eat for a few days. Rinse them off then into the pot they go. A quick simmer in some garlic, white wine and single cream with a little seasoning and you are good to go. Just use a darning needle to pull them out of their shells.

Depends on how old the bear is and when you kill it. If you get a younger one in the spring, after it’s had a good share of berries and grass, the meat is sweat, and tastes really good with certain recipes.

I’m allergic to seaweed, found that out the hard way. It gives me severe heartburn for hours.

Snails? Never thought of that. Actually sounds intriguing. How long do they have to cook? Or, how do you tell when they’re cooked? [/quote]

I said this before dont know if it showed up or not or if my computer is acting up

snails cook really fast
they turn to rubber real easy you just check to see if they are “firm”
they absorb any flavor you put with them ie butter and garlic is a big one.
they dont really IME have any flavor of their own.

I was a dishwasher when I was 16 at this swiss resturant,very upscale and we had things like escargo and beef wellington,and we had a free meal before work. wonderful place I loved it.

Yeah as Nich said, snails cook very quickly indeed.

Think chunks of fleshy fish about the same size - a couple of minutes in whatever cooking liquor you are using and they are done.

The longer you cook them the more rubbery they get which is a common mistake. The texture is great when cooked quickly but most people have tried them as overcooked rubbery balls of snot.

I like to do them by frying off a couple of cloves of garlic in some butter, then throwing in some mustard and onion seeds, a sliced onion and a couple of sliced green chillis.

Get the onion soft then on a high heat throw in the snails for maybe three minutes max.

how we made them in the resturant was you mix real butter with crushed garlic.
we then had a ramakin type thing with holes like pictured above
I found its called an escargot dish lol
you place a snail with no shell of course in each the holes and then coat the top of the dish with the butter and garlic mix to cover it up like plaster

place in a 350 oven for 10 mins or so

I love to eat wild food although I confess I am more of a hunter (and fisherman) then a gatherer.

The Pennsylvania woods are full of good things to eat. I enjoy wild berries and eat them often when available. The deer also love them and it helps to fatten them up for me in the late fall. I have a buddy that forages for mushrooms. I trade wild game with him often for a bag of mushrooms. Would love to learn more about collecting them.

I hunt with a rifle and a bow for big game and also enjoy upland and waterfowl hunting in Pennsylvania with a shotgun.

One of the things we do with small game here is to freeze all of the meat until we get a few pounds or more together (squirrel, rabbit and pheasant) then make a big pot of stew for Sunday football games.