Friday, May 27, 2011
While planting in the greenhouse today I came across a large ant nest inside a pot. Lots of little white larvae. I've read about and watched people eat this in survival books and shows. I've tried it before too, but figured this fit with the theme of the last blog post and was a good opportunity to write about it. Not much to say though. Tastes slightly buttery with a hint of formic acid from the random ants that also made it into my mouth. I suppose there is a fair amount of protein and fat in the larvae and if you get a significant amount, it could provide some nourishment. Just be cautious if you try this with fire ants. I saw Ray Mears demonstrate a method of separating out the larvae from the dirt by way of throwing the whole ant mound onto a tarp with the edges of the tarp folded over a few inches. The ants instantly start working to put the larvae in a safe spot and in a matter of an hour or so they will have moved all the larvae to the shady protection of the folded edges of the tarp. From here, the person can grab a nice handful and chow down. I needed to use the pot for planting that the ants were residing in so I watched them move their young to a new home after disturbing them. Efficient little buggers.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I've been reading a bit about eating snails. In the woods all around here there are tons of big snails with brownish, grey shells about 1" in diameter. I believe they may be the brown garden snail (Helix aspersa) variety introduced from Europe sometime in the past century. I haven't been able to find them in any Pacific NW guide books. I have seen some of the brown garden snail variety around, but way more of these slightly different looking ones. Anyway, I figured these would make an abundant survival food, not to mention the gourmet appetizer, escargot which is traditionally made from the brown garden snail. I did some research online and found nothing about any snails being toxic per se, but there has been research showing snails and slugs to be carriers of rat lung worm, a nasty parasite that can be transmitted to humans and cause a rare form of meningitis and/or death. Scary, but supposedly cooking them well like most wild meats, will kill any potential parasites.
So I did it. I gathered a bunch of snails and put them in a container with some corn meal for 3 days. According to a number of sources, this allows the snails to purge any toxic plants/nasty stuff they may have been munching on. After 3 days, I dropped the little buggers in some boiling water for about 15 min. I then used a nut pick to pull them from their shells and remove the "gall bladder" which I read is at the tail end of the snail, a sort of brown gland thing. With traditional escargot the snail is then placed back in the shell with a dollop of pesto on top for a fetching presentation. I didn't want to hassle with this so I just sauted them in some butter along with green onions and some morel mushrooms which I had just discovered that day, growing in some mulch in our asparagus bed! Now it was getting seriously gourmet.
I settled in for a little afternoon tapas of snails and morels. Wow! Amazing! It was delicious. My wife didn't want to join me though. The snails tasted and had a texture much like muscles or clams. Some further wikipedia searching revealed that many cultures around the world eat snails and have since prehistoric times. Makes sense. They are plentiful, nutritious and tasty. If anyone has any info about what type of snail this is in my picture above, please let me know. This is the beginning of a series of blog posts I intend to write about unusual wild foods in my area.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Our ewe, Lusa, had a baby boy yesterday. Here he is having a little milk. We didn't even know he was born until Kirsten went out to feed them and found him hiding behind some hay. His name is Salvador.
Some of the 2 month old chickens in their new chicken tractor.