Free Food Harvesting
A Few Quick Tips
There is free food all over the country, growing wild, and ready for harvest. The varities of wild food are just about endless, and can be either plants or animals.
When harvesting wildlife for the dinner table, make sure you obtain the needed licenses for the game, and state regulations. This could be a fishing license or a elk license, wth anything in between. Contact your state Wildlife Commision to find out the requirements. Also ask if any animal can be hunted throughout the year, and if any can be hunted without a license.
In many parts of the country, there are "seasons" for hunting certain animals like turkey, dove, deer, and so on. In some areas certain wildlife is open season year 'round. For example, some states not only allow, but encourage taking wild pigs anywhere, and any time you can.
Do be aware of elements that may make the meat non-desirable in some animals. Some meat, like rabbit meat just isn't any good in the hot part of the year. Same goes for pigs. On the other hand, fish all you want in summer, and enjoy your catch at supper.
It is much easier to identify good eatin' meat than good eating' plants. When harvesting wild plants, BE SURE what you are gathering is safe to eat! If you aren't 100% sure a plant is safe to eat, don't eat it. A friend of mine once picked and ate a mushroom from a Texas golf course, and almost died from it! I never harvest wild mushrooms, because I don't know which are okay, and which can be deadly.
Pecans A Sure Bet!
Pecans are simple to identify, and grow just about everywhere in my neck of the woods, along with other parts of the country.
Pecans are a very large sized; deciduous tree belonging to the hickory family, Juglandaceae. A native tree here in North Central Texas, that bear nuts that begin to fall normally after the first good frost.
Native pecans tend to be a smaller, harder shelled nut than the other varities, such as Paper Shell pecans. As the name implies, Paper Shell pecans are easier to deal with when cracking, and getting the "goodies" out. They also produce a larger nut. But for me, nothing beats the rich nutty flavor of the smaller, harder shelled Native. Side by side a Native pecan can outweigh a Paper Shell, one on one. I'm not sure why, but I suspect it is due to the harder shell, along with what seems to be a dencer, more oily nut. To me Paper Shells tend to have a drier texture.
Pecan trees (scientific name: Carya illinoinensis) grow in many areas along the roadside. So if the tree is on state or county road property, and there is ample room to pull over and park safely, you can harvest the pecans. Also many times you will find pecan trees growing on government property such as court house lawns. These pecans are also usually public domain, and free for the gathering. You might want ask first just to be sure.
Never pick up pecans on private property without permission!
Pecans are a great source of energy, because they provide 690 calories per 100 grams of yumminess. Pecans are chocked full of monounsaturated fatty acids and are a natural source of antioxidants. Eating pecans helps to lower "bad cholesterol" and increases "good cholesterol"!
Pecans are loaded with vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin, which help the body remove toxic oxygen-free radicals and so protect folks from diseases, cancers, and infections
Pecans are very rich in B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Vitamins that work for the enzyme metabolism inside your human body.
Pecans contain good amounts of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Not to mention protien!
Who would think something that tastes so wonderful, could be so dog gone good for you?
Simple Pecan Candy
We all know how good pecans taste in brownies, cookies, fudge, and chopped for topping off ice cream. But for a fast, easy, different, and very tasty pecan "candy" try my on the fly, spur of the moment concoction.
This came to us one chilly winter day while everyone had a sweet tooth, and I had pecans, and little less to work with.
Melt enough butter (I use real dairy butter) to coat the pecans in a large skillet. Having a little more butter is better than having a little less.
Add your shelled pecans to the hot butter, and turn up the heat to medium high.
Stir, stir, stir! You want to cook the pecans, but don't burn them.
Add a few drops (to taste) of extract flavoring. I like lemon extract in this, but what ever you like will work too.
Stir some more.
Sprinkle in enough powdered sugar to excessively coat all the pecans and soak up the butter.
Stir, stir, stir!
When the sugar has melted, and is clear(ish), turn off the heat and lay your "candy" on a large plate to cool. If you have good pecan halves instead of bits and pieces, try to lay them out individually for nibbling. If you have bits and pieces, make small bite sized clumps on the cooling plate.
The combination of butter and sugar makes a semi hard candy "shell" when cool.
If your pecans are already shelled, this only takes 5 to 10 minutes to make. Cooling time varies.
Stay Tuned For More!
I will be publishing more Hubs on free food, and how to harvest and use them in your diet. So please come back often to see what's cooking!