The reason this struck me so was that last fall I was looking forward to foraging some of the delicacies along my 5-mile run/walk/jog and/or bike route, and the weather didn’t cooperate and the trees didn’t bear much.
The previous year, Annette and I had picked bunches, and she used a tomato press to crush and strain the fruits and make a delicious jam and homemade persimmon bread. Yum!
But, beware. If you eat the fruit before it’s ripe, your mouth will pucker up with a sour/tart flavor that’s almost impossible to wash out.
The secret to not allowing the persimmons to have a bitter flavor is to wait until the fruit is so ripe it’s almost dripping off the limb. It looks almost rotten. Then, it’s meat is almost pure sugar. Of course, you’re competing with deer, raccoons and every other scavenger on the planet when they are ripe like that.
So, for now, I’m warily watching the persimmon tree in hopes that my patience will bear fruit!
Foraging seems to be big deal in urban areas these days. It’s not so unusual in rural areas – or wasn’t when I was growing up. I’m by no means a Euell Gibbons (Stalking the Wild Asparagus, et al.), but when I was a boy, I learned to gather wild onions for broths, pick sumac and dig sassafras for tea, and could, in a pinch, whip up some dandelion greens to eat (you can use them in place of collards for a nice casserole with mozzarella cheese and bread crumbs).
Over the years, I’ve lost several copies of my “bible” for foraging: Peterson’s A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.
The ultimate forager may be someone who eats anything invasive (or opportunistic!) in the local ecosystem, thus ensuring a balanced local ecology of flora and fauna.
One such forager is Jackson Landers of Virginia who writes a blog called The Locavore Hunter (http://rule-303.blogspot.com).
As New York Times writer James Gorman notes, Landers “has hunted and eaten feral pigs, two species of iguana, armadillos, starlings, pigeons and resident Canada geese. He says that all of these activities will be chronicled in a book, Eating Aliens, and perhaps a television show as well.”
Many rural people of my acquaintance are familiar with the preparation – from shot to pot – of deer, raccoon, squirrel, possum, etc. (Where my dad grew up during the Depression near Vaughan was called “Possum Bend” for its gustatory abundance; they lived off what the land provided, animal, vegetable and mineral.)
But it’s worth noting that, in addition to what’s growing in your organic 4×8-foot Jim’s plot, there’s a real wealth of healthful foods available for the picking in your yard or just out your front door.
The whole world can be a sweet organic garden when foraging.
First: Remove habitats such as old tires, containers, etc. Second, try growing plants that repel them, like basil, lemongrass and citronella. Third, apply oil of lemon eucalyptus; it can mix with water as a spray. Fourth, buy liquid garlic (available online) and spray yard, patio, etc.
•The annual meeting of the Mississippi Beekeepers Association will be held at the Gulf Coast Community College campus in Gautier Oct. 27-30. For more information, contact the MBA at Box 5207, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762; or call secretary Harry Fulton (662) 325-7765, or email email@example.com.
•The Mississippi Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Conference & Trade Show will be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center in Vicksburg, Nov. 14-16. It will be held in conjunction with the Mississippi Agritourism Association and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association. Early bird registration special price of $75 ends today. For details, see www.msfruitandveg.com.
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.