Monday, October 24, 2011

More Cattails

Despite the beautiful weather, I was so excited to work on the berry rake that I delayed wild food adventuring until the afternoon.  I managed to cut and bend the copper to the appropriate shape, but I still have to solder the joins, install a handle, and figure out what I am going to use for the wire bottom tray.  The rake is roughly 3 inches tall, 11 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Shin finally roused me from the house and Katrina, he and I went to collect more Narrow Leaf Cattail (Typha angustifolia) rhizomes.  I dressed in shorts with sandals and neoprene socks.  Had I had gloves I think I would have been warm enough, but the water was very cold and I was only able to pick for about an hour.  We cleaned our cattails on site, which I think is the best way to do it, because nobody wants to deal with a bag that smells of swamp when they get home hungry and tired.  My technique for peeling the sponge layer has evolved recently.  After cutting the tips off the rhizome, I used to use my thumb as a blunt scrapping tool to push the sponge layer off of the dense core.  Now I cut through the sponge layer all the way around the rhizome at a point a few inches from the end with the most abundant rhizoids (usually the sprouting end).  Then I use the back of my knife to scrape away the sponge layer between my cut and the end.  Then I turn the rhizome around and either use my thumb as previously, or continue using the back of my knife.  If the rhizome is loose enough, and has few rhizoids, I can pull the core out from the sponge layer with one hard yank.

There was still a little daylight after our rhizome picking, so we drove out to Island View Beach and collected more Crab Apples (Malus fusca).  Almost all of the apples are soft and pinkish red; only a few are still yellow.  They pick much easier in this state and frequently detach at the apple, leaving the stem on the tree, which makes them much easier to process.  The leaves are also falling, and I often stripped an entire branch with my cupped hands, getting fruit and leaves together.  I wonder if leaves mixed with the fruit would help preserve the apples longer in the same way that wrapping domesticate apples in paper helps preserve them.
Back home I decided to remove the leaves from the Crab Apples and put them outside for the night (no room in the refrigerator).  Then I rinsed and chopped the cattail rhizomes.  Despite a late start I feel we still got a full day’s foraging in—here it is almost 10:00pm.
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