Wild Edible Plants On Our Homestead

Outdoor Fire Place

Outdoor Fire Place


Wild edible plants surround our Peaceful Forest Homestead! That fact amazes me every year. There are so many plants growing in the forest around us that I couldn’t begin to know them all. I carry my worn copy of  A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides) with me, when I want to learn about a plant I have seen. I usually bring back one of the plants, the stalk, the flower or berry and some leaves. I will go online and check more than one website that has actual photographs of this plant. I study it carefully, before I decide to indulge in a taste. One taste of a poisonous plant could be your last! I am NOT kidding!

Wild Grape Vines

Wild Grape Vines


That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sample the wild edible plants growing near you. I like the fact that I can pick them fresh all season, and not have to dry or can them. When the season is done, we go on to other food. These plants will be back in our diet next year. Eating food in that way means that we never get tired of them. We can eat dandelion greens all spring and summer, and then when they are gone, I can dream about eating them again next spring. Berries are abundant in the forests of NY. I think this must be the way early settlers got a supply of fruit for their families. Not only do we have berries to harvest, but plenty of wild apple trees and grapes. 

Wild Berries

Wild Berries


When we first moved here, I didn’t know the first thing about wild edible plants. I learned fast. Our house had the woods growing right up to the back door. What was growing in that area? Wild edible plants of course! Mainly blackberries. Everywhere you could see around our house was blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, Hawthorne berries, choke cherries, raspberries and at least a dozen, old heirloom apple trees. I have the idea that whoever first built this house in 1850, may have planted those old apple trees. He built a wood bin in the root cellar that is attached to the ceiling with no legs to the floor. I think they stored the apples that they harvested from the trees here in that bin. It is one of my favorite things about this house. I made so many berry cobblers and apple crisps and applesauce those first few  years. Eventually we had to clear those areas for the garden and yard.  Then the area to build our barn and paddock had to be cleared too. It didn’t matter, we still have enough.

Wild Edible Plants

Wild Edible Plants


If you plan right, you can make use of the wild edible plants while they are at their peak. I admit to canning and drying many of them, though I don’t really have to. Making juice from the fruits is something I have done and still do quite often. One year you might get a huge harvest and the next two, hardly anything. I have to fight the birds and bees every year for the berries and grapes. They feed off the sweet fruits and they harvest them before they are ready. That is why they usually beat me to it. It is a good way to add to your food supply, since these foods are free, except for the work of picking and cleaning them (maybe fighting the bees too). Do you have any edible wild foods on your homestead? What do you do with them?

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

*I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click, or products I recommend, may or may not, compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


Pale or Yellow Jewelweed Can Be Used For Food Too

Impatiens capensis aka "Jewel Weed"

Impatiens  pallida aka “Jewelweed”

 Pale or Yellow Jewelweed was growing wild in my manure pile. It wasn’t that long ago that I was asking readers what this plant was. I had no idea what it was, or if it was worth keeping for food or medicine. Now I know what it is and it is a very useful plant to have. It’s real name is impatiens pallida. It can and will take over an area pretty quickly though. These plants grow in our manure pile, so it doesn’t really matter if it takes over or not………..or so I thought. Now it is in the composted dirt, which is what we add to our raised beds. So this spring, our raised beds are full of these. I will get rid of them, but I will make use of them first.

Impatiens capensis aka "Jewel Weed"

Growing in the compost pile.

As a medicinal plant, Jewelweed is mainly used for a poison ivy remedy. I have never had to use it for that purpose and neither did my husband. I don’t believe we have poison ivy in this area of our forest. I am sure it is out there, but not where we are. I pondered what to use it for since it is plentiful here. I referred to my Edible Wild Plants field guide, and it said it is a good edible plant. Cook it as you would for cooked greens. Now that is an idea I can use. 

Yellow or Pale Jewelweed

Yellow or Pale Jewelweed

 Actually there are a  lot of plants that can be cooked in dishes like cooked greens would be. I like to put them in soups, stews and casseroles. My plan of course, will be to can the Jewelweed, as I would for spinach, kale, turnip or beet greens. I am anxious to try this and put them away for winter food. I have just about used up all the canned greens I had left. A few jars of kale is all that is in the cupboard now. Not to worry though! I looked at our wild food supply around our homestead this morning, and it is packed with foods waiting to be picked.

Jewelweed

Pretty with bees around it in summer!

If the weather is good tomorrow, I will be picking the Jewelweed for canning. I have to get it out of my raised beds anyway. As my husband will soon be plowing them up for planting. The more food I can get from our homestead, the better off we’ll be! 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole