A few weeks ago I tested my shelter building skills while on an overnight camp in an Indiana backwoods (watch the Webisode Series “OVERNIGHT IN A DEBRIS HUT”). The fall is by far my favorite time to get out in the woods for many reasons. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, most of the annoying insects have died off and the colors are beautiful.
Aside from building my Debris Hut, I also took some time to gather some wild edibles – it never hurts to practice these gathering and identification skills when out in the woods for any reason. Even though it was late in the season and a lot of my favorite edibles were getting pretty tough and bitter, I did happen upon a total score – the often overlooked and under-reviewed native Persimmon. The tree I found was a small scragly tree but it was loaded with ripe and delicious fall Persimmons. And, I wasn’t the only one that noticed – which was clear by the variety of animal doo-doo under the tree.
Until the first frost the Persimmon can be the most bitter tasting thing you’ve ever put in your mouth. But after that first really cold night, something magical happens. Bitterness makes way for the sweetest tasting flavor you’ve ever had – quite unlike anything else on earth. I’m not talking about store bought Persimmons either. I don’t even like the taste of those bland store bought Persimmons. If the Fall Season had a flavor…it could be summed up with the sweet goodness of the wild Persimmon.
On my hike into the woods I found a dried gourd while hiking through an overgrown field. As a student of survival and self reliance, I’m always on the look-out for “Mother Nature Specials”. This is what I call a great natural find that I can get some use out of while in the woods. When I left for my overnight trip, I brought with me my camera, a wool sweater, a tin cup, the clothes on my back and 2 knives. The temperature was looking to be in the high 30’s at nightfall. Anyway, in this case, my gourd find provided me with a much needed container that I quickly put to use as can be seen by the photo below.
The Fall is an odd season for gathering wild edibles. Nuts are readily available, but they are a lot of work for not many calories. Most of the young shoots, leaves, flowers and buds from many of the most popular wild plants are long gone or too fibrous and bitter to be worth your while. Some tuber and roots are good this time of year but identifying them with the main plant withering and dying can be tricky. Needless to say, these Persimmons were a huge moral boost about 9 hours into my trip. The sugar didn’t hurt either. Too much of a good thing is always bad, though. At least when it comes to ripe fruit…so I paced myself. With that said, I thought it might be worth doing some research about just how nourishing wild Persimmons really are so I did a search in the USDA National Nutrient Database and was pleasantly surprised. Below is just a part of the chart that popped up on the good ‘ol Persimmon:
So the next time you’re out scouting for some wild edibles in the fall I hope you are as lucky as I was on this trip. As you can see in the Video Series about this trip, I was almost speechless when I took my first bite. Definitely a survival high-light.
Talk soon – Creek