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

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Edible And Medicinal Plants On Our Forest Homestead

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Dandelion

Edible and medicinal plants are everywhere. Many plants that are thought of as weeds are actually food. Like dandelions! Not only that, but most of them are not only edible, but also medicinal plants. So they can be eaten for food or used for what ails you. I know the plants around my own homestead the best, because those are the ones I use. It makes sense to learn about the ones that grow the closest to your home. Learning how to harvest them. Then how to prepare or store them, so you can use them for food. Later on, you can learn how to use them for medicine. Most plants have many different medicinal uses. 

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Burdock

Burdock is another plant that is both, edible and medicinal plants. Farmers burn burdock! That is really a sin. Burdock is one of the ingredients in the Essiac tea. It is a blood purifier and is extremely beneficial to the liver. I love my burdock plants growing around our property. This year I am going to make a big effort to get to it early in the spring, and start using the leaves as food. I seem to forget about doing that till the leaves are tougher. Early spring is the best time for most of these plants. Though we eat the dandelions, as long as they are growing.

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Elderberry

Elderberry jam, jelly and pies! Mmmm! Who hasn’t heard of them? I started canning elderberries as unsweetened juice a few years back. That way I can make it into whatever I want. Or just drink it plain. It is another one of the popular edible and medicinal plants. The blossoms are pretty powerful too. Just make them up into a tincture for future uses. Elderberry is famous for its use as preventing the flu. Even Allopathic doctors recommend it now. I am fortunate to have elderberries growing all over the forest land around me. They are everywhere! Of course, I have to fight the birds for the berries!

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Wild Fox Grapes

Fox or wild grapes are another food that grows through out the state forest. The vines wrap themselves around the trees, and choke the life out of the young ones. I have saved more than one from that untimely death. Grapes can be made into juice, jam or jelly. The leaves are also a well known food. The Greek people are known for their dish of stuffed grape leaves. They can be cooked in a little olive oil with some garlic and whatever you want to add. Grape leaves can be canned for future use as cooked greens.

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Mullien

Mullien is a plant that is used for ear problems. I am not real familiar with it since I have never had to use it. Buy a good field guide to the plants around your home. I use this one A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) for the medicinal plants. Learn to do this before you need to do it! Once you get started, you may find this is a good way to cut expenses, as well as improve your health! Happy Foraging! 

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole