Aug 14, 2005 at 10:12 am #1216611
The other day a friends seven year old son was telling me about some “Mung” beans that he had sprouted at school in a cupboard, simply by soaking them, then rinsing, draining and leaving. A few days later he had a bowl fully of juicy green shoots that he had proudly taken home. This got me thinking to the benefit of taking Mungbeans on the trail. They could be soaked over night, say 8 hours whilst sleeping, drained, and then left in a plastic bag (Sort of mini green house) in your pack and just rinsed and drained as and when. The weight of the shoots I imagine would be negligible and from what I have seen on the internet, the growing time 2/3 days. They appear to like darkish places (Minimal light) so a pack could be ideal. On a long hike you could use these to supplement your diet. Either, putting the mung beans in a stew etc or spouting them and using them as a salad type addition. I haven’t tried it yet, but wondered if anyone else out there had tried anything similar?Aug 14, 2005 at 10:44 am #1340307
Don’t know a whole lot about mung beans, but I’ve had some botany courses. A while back, mind you, so I’m hoping that I recall this info correctly.
Think about this. This is not really “growing” in the sense that a farmer grows crops. This is a closed system. Essentially no nutrients or energy for growth comes from outside of the sprouting beans. In order to sprout, the bean uses “stored” energy reserves (just like a potato sprouting in the bin). What is used to “sprout” is not left in the bean proper. It is robbing “Peter” (the bean) to pay “Paul” (the sprout). So then, this is really a choice b/t all of the nutrition in the bean proper, or having sprouts for a bit of variety – variety is often a good thing. There is nothing wrong with this choice, but we’re not getting something for nothing. The nutritional content of the sprout will vary somewhat from the bean due to the metabolism which occurs as part of the sprouting process. Any extra weight which “magically” appears in the sprouted beans is due to incorporation of the available external moisture in the pkg which is partly responsible for the sprouting. The overall wt of the sealed pkg should remain somewhat constant, though some mass converted to energy for growth may be lost as thermal energy and not converted back into sprouts.
If anyone feels that I’m mistaken on any of these points, please “post” back and educate me. Many thanks.Aug 14, 2005 at 10:52 am #1340308
Paul, everything you said seems right to me. I guess the choice is as you indicated, between the orignal bean or the fresh shoot. One of the biggest problems on the trail is the availability of fresh food. Dried food can become tiresome after a while or maybe thats just my cooking! Sure you can always eat some of the plants around you, subject to any preventative laws and providing you are sure enough about identifying what you are eating. It just seemed a candidate for something a bit different and as they say, variety is the spice of life.Aug 14, 2005 at 11:04 am #1340310
Paul, everything you said seems right to me. I guess the choice is as you indicated, between the orignal bean or the fresh shoot. One of the biggest problems on the trail is the availability of fresh food. Dried food can become tiresome after a while or maybe thats just my cooking! Sure you can always eat some of the plants around you, subject to any preventative laws and providing you are sure enough about identifying what you are eating. It just seemed a candidate for something a bit different and as they say, variety is the spice of life.Aug 14, 2005 at 11:09 am #1340311
I’m an old stick in the mud. I generally don’t like change. One of the few benefits of this OCD mentality is that I can eat GORP day-after-day and not grow tired of it. Of course, I made the GORP up myself so it has a lot of diff ingredients in it – all of which I like – for me it’s like candy for adults. Come to think of it, my kids liked it when they were younger. Even when not on the trail, GORP, home-made yogurt, fresh fruit, home dried fruits & jerky, and home-baked goods were generally their only snacks/desserts. They never seemed to tire of any of them – even the GORP.
You raised a good point about “wild” food on the trail. There are easily in the Northeast (the only area that I’m familiar with) at least two dozen rare to common plants that can be eaten (rare ones, like “Indian Potato” are on some States’ “No Pick” List) – actually, there are more than two dozen. There are more, but I’m certainly no expert on every edible plant (esp “shrooms”). For more info, consult some 30-40 yr old books by Euell Gibbons. Depending upon the time of year, meadows are particularly abundant in these edible plants/herbs. Lake shore areas also have a fair share of edible plants. To my limited knowledge, the deeper woods are a bit sparser in edible plants (anyone familiar with any, please “post” back & educate me – i would appreciate it). Many public libraries and bookstores have books that identify and illustrate these (Gibbons’ books are among the best, IMHO – and they make good reading – he has some good “yarns” to tell – i’ve never tried his Native American procedure for conferring “poison ivy” immunity even though he explains it well). In fact, several common weeds in a cultivated veggie garden are edible – some of which 100+ yrs ago were actually cultivated as garden veggies. They typically don’t taste as good as our more “modern” cultivated garden veggies – perhaps, in part, why they fell out of favor and are now just considered to be wild weeds to be uprooted and discarded (i uproot, wash, & eat – even they taste good with Newman’s Own Caesar salad dressing).
When my children were young, I would often point out the edible plants that we would encounter on our hikes. This seemed to be quite interesting for the children. They especially liked being “quizzed” when we next encountered a plant that had been prev. identified (and often tasted raw and freshly picked). It was esp. rewarding when they would pick & bring to me for a positive I.D. b/f they ate it [this should be strongly taught – don’t let the young children pick & eat w/o a knowledgeable adult providing a final I.D.]. You can do this with trees, shrubs, insects, birds, etc. as well. It helps to educate the kids & give them a greater appreciation for the wilds. BTW, a small, light field guide might make good trail reading & it’s educational too.
You mention “spice of life” – try some Pepper Grass for wild seasoning. It’s easy to identify & difficult to mis-identify.
Oh…for some fresh “meat” without “trapping”…there are some insects that can be eaten too – great shades of “Fear Factor”! I’m a bit of a wimp, so I either pull or bite the heads off first (the legs, if they have them, still keep on kickin’, so don’t let that startle you). Taste just like chicken… – just kiddin’.Aug 14, 2005 at 11:32 am #1340316
The trouble with mung beans on the trail is that they get “funky” easily since they must be kept well-rinsed. Same with alfalfa, radish, etc. sprouts. Yes, they can sprout in the dark; however, then they need to grow. During that growth of the sprout they need a lot of rinsing.
Even in my kitchen, I have to keep on them to keep them well-rinsed & fresh.
In my opinion it is easier to pick young dandelion greens or lambs quarters on the trail for fresh greens. Dandelions in particular are everywhere and are delicious as well as nutritious particularly when young. And lambs quarters are wonderfully nutritious added to any meal.Aug 14, 2005 at 11:40 am #1340317
you mentioned two of my favorites – “dandy” greens & lamb’s quarters (bland, but palatable). you can also eat the small, unopened buds of the dandelion. some people eat the larger flowers, but i find the taste of larger dandelions somewhat objectionable – edible, but not palatable.Aug 14, 2005 at 11:45 am #1340319
Instead of “Growing Food on the Trail” I should have named this thread “Food Growing on the Trail” !!!! Thanks Cat for your input. It seems the beans take a little more effort than i imagined. Whilst the effort isn’t the problem, the regular rinsing you mention could use up too much water. Thanks for the mention of some of the edible plants (You as well Paul.) Up until now, I confess my knowledge of wild plants hasn’t been that great but knowledge doesn’t weigh anything. I think I should get a pocket book and do some learning. Afterall this whole site is about passing learning and information on which in turn helps others lose pack weight. We always concentrate on the pack weight ignoring the weight of the food/water but clearly, better knowledge here can have massive benefits and i’m the first to admit it’s an area I could improve upon.Aug 14, 2005 at 12:29 pm #1340325
Campmor.com has some edible plants “flash cards” – not very expensive. I think that there are 64 of them in the “deck” of cards – pictures on one side; info on the other, i believe. That could also be a good start.
I can hear it now, instead of the children’s card game “Go Fish”… “Do you have any chicory? Go pick!”
I’m certainly no expert on wild foods, though I’ve picked and eaten many diff types for 35+ yrs. To survive just on wild plants in the spring and summer (when they are most abundant), a lot of time has to be devoted to foraging. You might not want to take that much time away from making progress on the trail. Yes…, sometimes you come upon an area (a meadow, for instance) that is just loaded with edible wild plants, but you can’t always expect this. At times, pickin’s can be quite slim. Sure,… Euell Gibbons proved that he could survive even in the SouthWest deserts of the US, solely by foraging, but he said it was difficult to find enough to eat for him and his two grandchildren – and he was a real master of survival/edible wild plants. A better plan is to just pick ’em as you come upon them, & use them to supplement whatever “grub” you packed in with you.
BTW, I liked the point you made about knowledge not weighing anything – very good point.Aug 14, 2005 at 12:45 pm #1340327
Thanks for the mention of Campmor.com. The cards at $8.99 look pretty good. Unfortunately, Campmor do not ship to the United Kingdom which is where I am based. I will have to hunt around on the internet to find another store that will export them to me.Aug 14, 2005 at 1:00 pm #1340328
search the internet for
U.S. Army Survival Manual
Wilderness Survival Manual
Some industrious individuals have put some very good resources up in electronic form.
If memory serves, the U.S. Army Survival Manual (assuming all of the print book is reproduced electronically), has a chapter on edible Wild Plants – in fact, unless my “old-timers” is really acting up, i know that it does. Photos of the plants should be in an appendix to the US Army Survival manual.
Hope this helps.Aug 14, 2005 at 8:43 pm #1340352
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
A while ago–I’m talking twenty years or so–one could buy backpacker sprout kits or DIY, based on articles floating around at the time. IIRC it required blotter paper of some sort, zip-type baggies and…seeds. Seemed like a good idea to me for long trips when one’s fantasies go beyond pizza and beer to salads and fruit; that said I never tried it myself.
So long as you’re scrupulous about no unwanted bacterial growth, there’s no reason you couldn’t sprout alfalfa or beans seeds, etc. as you go. I just don’t know whether the volume you’d get would make it worth your while.
How about sprouting barley and making beer?Aug 14, 2005 at 9:57 pm #1340355
@quiltbinderLocale: Southwestern Indiana
Has anyone grown yogurt while backpacking? I really like yogurt on my daily cereal, and often carry it fresh for the first night, but do you think a culture could be kept going for several days? What do you think the lowest incubation temperature would be that would work? I incubated some on my porch last week when the temp was in the 90’s. I don’t want to hike when it’s that hot though. I don’t care for cultured buttermilk, but I wonder if that would work for those who do like it.Aug 15, 2005 at 1:00 am #1340356
Hope I’m recalling this correctly fr/a senior level Food & Diary Microbiology class I took over 30yrs ago. [Made quite a bit of yogurt then. Used a Salton yogurt maker for yrs to make yogurt at home.]
Ideal yogurt making temp for Lactobacillus bulgaricus and L. acidophilis is ~108 deg F (non-pathogens generally have a broader temp range for prospering than do pathogenic bacteria – hence the ability to tolerate such a high temp and do well). FYI, figure, nominally speaking, one bacterial cell division of each of the initial culture organisms in ~20min at these temps (let’s see… 3div per hour, so in ~6.5hrs we have ~20divisons, so each cell will have multiplied to ~1million cells – 2 raised to the 20th power = ~1million – prolific, to say the least), I’m not sure of the actual division (mitotic division of the cell) rate at these temps. This time is prob. in the “ballpark” though. [Note: if this were egg salad, chicken or “mayo”, etc., & Staph. aureus or Salmonella were doing the multiplying – one would get plenty ill – experienced this once, i.e., Staph food intoxication (often improperly called “poisoning”) based upon time to onset after consuming the “spoiled” food & duration of the mass simultaneous exit from both upper & lower ends (i’m sure you get the picture) – & this from a restaurant buffet no less – take it from me, you don’t want to experience this!!!].
One can make very good yogurt, in the old days of gas ovens with pilots constantly burning, by placing the cultured milk in the kitchen oven & shutting the door. DON’T turn on the gas. The heat from the pilot in the insulated oven raises the ambient oven temp enough to make fine yogurt.
You can, as you found out through your own experimentation, culture at lower temps, but it 1) takes longer, 2) runs the risk of other “buggers” (var. Streptococci [non-pathogenic ]species, for instance – i forget the others, sorry – it’s been too long) taking over and outperforming the “culture” organisms, [take it from me you don’t want Strep. fecalis culturing your milk – note the “fecal” in fecalis. i tasted it once as part of a “learning” experience, the Prof. said!!!], 3) the extended length of time also allows more of a possibility for mold growth. Now, I don’t know if it’s possible to successfully culture yogurt in the mid-80’s (degrees, NOT the decade of the 1900’s). Generally speaking, figure 5-7 unrefrigerated days for mold growth. Non-Lactobacilli bacterial spoilage in a day if the Lactobacilli culture organisms do not compete as well for available nutrients. I’m not sure how “lo_you_can_go” and still be successful. Never tried myself, but it should be an interesting experiment for anyone who wishes to find out (please let me know – if you try it). You might consider adding a larger quantity of “starter” if you are going to culture the entire time at a lower temp. This could give the Lactobacilli the greater numbers that they will require to become the predominant organism. Use pasteurized milk to do this lower temp culturing to make sure that the Lactobacilli do well and succeed in actually being the culturing organism just in case you use too little starter. If anyone has any experience using “raw” milk to culture yogurt, at any temp, please share this info with us. Many thanks.
In the middle east countries, Acidophilis milk is produced by filling a goat skin with goat or camel’s milk, adding a “starter” culture of L. acidophilis, and hanging it in the sun. I forget how long it takes to culture it like this, but the desert is generally pretty hot – especially if it is a dark “skin”/bag hanging in the sun. When you’re not on the move, you could place your cultured milk in the sun to heat it up a bit. Don’t use any clear containers though, as enough UV light from the sun can penetrate both glass and plastic and kill off the little buggers. (i’ve seen this over and over in microbiology labs when petri dishes are left in front of a window) Anyone need proof??? After all, this IS the principle behind SODIS – solar disinfection of water – takes ~6hrs or so on a clear day – if memory serves. [Note: it is for this reason, my own personal experience many times over, that I do NOT look at my water bottle if i’m using a UV-C generating product to sterilize my water. The mfr’s say it’s ‘ok’, but i feel differently. After all if UV can get in, why can’t it get out? If I’m wrong on this last point, please reply and explain why.]
As far as keeping the culture going, once the Lactobacilli dominate & lower the ph to ~4.5 to 4.0 (hope my memory is correct here – so take these pH numbers with a “grain of salt”), other buggers shouldn’t be able to grow well. I’m not sure, any longer, of any “bug” that converts Lactic acid into some type of alcohol or other metabolic by product, so I don’t know/can’t remember what would grow in it after culturing – other than molds. maybe i can’t remember b/c nothing will grow besides the mold??? Other bugs can grow in a low pH media, but these bugs,e.g. Acetobacters & Citrobacters, need other “media” for growth, wine & citrus fruits/juice – not milk/diary products). I think that you’ll be ‘ok’ until the molds start to grow.
Sorry, I’m beginning to ramble. ’nuff said.
Hope this info helps some.Aug 15, 2005 at 4:34 pm #1340393
Thanks everyone for contributing. I was surprised by Ricks comments about the sprouting packs of twenty years ago. Also, particularly surprised by Patti’s idea of making yoghurt on the trail. That was something that I would never have thought of!!!! Oh and Paul, for someone who hasn’t looked at that stuff for years, your recall is incredible, very impressed. With equipment these days, water filters etc, we can all live on the trail for weeks. It seems that the final barrier then is ultimately food.Aug 15, 2005 at 4:52 pm #1340394
Thanks for the compliment. I must warn you though, that I sometimes find my memory is not so good. Sometimes I get things exactly backwards. Other times I just can’t remember.
I took an 8′ fall nearly four years ago. Got broken up pretty bad. Won’t ever recover 100% physically. The worst part is that my heart rate dropped to 30bpm & my breathing to 2x per minute for about a 45min period. No measurable BP or pulse. Heartrate could only be detected by stethoscope if ambient noise was low. Twice I needed resucitation by EMTs when I stopped working altogether. Got all this info from the lead EMT when I called to thank her after I was released from the hospital. She told me that when she first arrived on the scene and saw me, she was wondering how she was going to tell my wife that I was already dead – she had been an EMT for 17yrs at that time. Classic death look: skin palor, eyes open, mouth open. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. Obviously, I couldn’t see myself, but I’ve seen it, so I can imagine what the EMT meant.
I lost a lot of memory after that and some reasoning ability/intelligence, some concentration, and it’s harder to learn/relearn things now. Many things that I had memorized are gone. I needed to relearn certain aspects of my job that I had done for years. My wife was the first one to realize I had changed after the accident. My wife, and my mother, say that, in more ways than one, I’m like that TV character “Monk”. Not sure, if that’s a compliment – I don’t think that it is? I don’t watch much TV. At work I’ve been called the “Absent Minded Professor”, and a “Mad Scientist” – I think they mean it in a “nice” way though?
However, considering how bad things could have been both physically & mentally after the accident, I consider myself blessed.
Bottom line is I’m often hesitant to write these posts (other than to ask questions). Take what I say with a grain of salt and check with more reputatable sources. I won’t write something I’m not sure of without saying so, but sometimes I may just think I’m recalling something correctly when in actuality I’m not.
pjAug 15, 2005 at 9:20 pm #1340408
@quiltbinderLocale: Southwestern Indiana
I really admire and respect your knowledge and memory of all that bacteriological stuff.
But, let’s do some experiment’s and see what really works. First, on the trail I would be using powdered milk. I won’t be taking my cow or goat, so I think the risk of contamination is much less. Besides, I don’t really have a goat or cow.
Tonight, a culture of yogurt and reconstituted powdered milk is incubating in my dehydrater at 95deg. (Usually I use skim and powdered milk thet has been heated to 190+deg. and cooled to 110deg or less.) If that works,tomorrow after using most of it for breakfast, some it will be used to inoculate some more recon. powdered milk and set on the porch to incubate all day. I’ll repeat this each day using some of the previous days yogurt to inoculate that day’s; and I’ll moniter and record the outside high temps. I’ll see how long I can keep this up.
Now what nighttime temp should I store it at? The refrigerator is probably too cool to be realistic. How cool do you think a stream or spring is in the summer? 60 or 70 deg? My inside air temp is 71 at night. I also have a small spare refig. I could turn on and up to acheive a cooler temp but not so cold as my regular refrigerator. I’m willing to run two cultures at a time under diff. conditions, but probably not more.
I’ll post my results, succeed or fail.Aug 15, 2005 at 9:30 pm #1340409
can’t wait to see how it all turns out.Aug 19, 2005 at 8:43 am #1340555
I for one have noticed alot of edible fungi on the trails in Northern Ontario where I hike. I think it would be interesting to do a hike/ discover trip where a large proportion of the lunchs are covered with soup base/ (mushroom).
Some North American fungi that are edible are the boletus spp (some, not all), yellow and black morels, shaggy mane (easily distinguished and tasty), chicken mushrooms, and chantrelle.
They may not be super high in calories but most have a “meaty firmness” that really compliments chicken or veggie stock bases.
Here’s a site describing some of them.
Maybe someone should think about making a bandana printed with the taxonomy (descriptions) of some of the more popular and easily distinguished shrooms.Aug 19, 2005 at 8:50 am #1340556
@naturephoto1Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Do you feel that comfortable recognizing the edible mushrooms to chance ingestion?
RichAug 19, 2005 at 9:48 am #1340565
I’ve lived in Northern Ontario for 20 years of my life so I’m pretty familiar with the various spp of shrooms in my area… and we have fly agaric, and death angels. The key is developing your understanding of the seasons, and locales of these mushrooms.
For instance, yellow boletus (a prized shroom in Ontario for its taste and texture) only grows from early September to mid/late October, grows under birch trees predominantly, and always under leaf litter. Chicken mushrooms are a little harder to pick out from their poisonous cousins but after side by side observation a couple times it should be second nature.Aug 19, 2005 at 9:54 am #1340566
Usually, actually nearly always, i steer clear of ‘shrooms’. It is my understanding that, generally, they provide very little nutrition. Some very young Amanitas are mistaken for edible ‘shrooms’. A piece of a young Amanita phalloides the size of a green pea can be fatal (hence the common name Death Angel). It is known that a young A. phalloides may be mistaken for a small puffball (edible when small – sliced thin & sauteed in butter) if one is careless. In some cases, spore prints are the only sure way to positively identify some ‘shrooms’. Fortunately, this is not necessary for some edible ones. Keep in mind, in diff geographical regions some inedible varieties look very similar to edible varieties from another region. Best way to learn is to have a ‘Shroom’ Master show you the ropes for their area – hopefully they also know the poisonous varieties that appear similar as well and can point out the diffs. Generally, I don’t point out to anyone the few edible ‘shrooms’ that I am acquainted with. Frankly, I’m not that knowledgeable.Aug 19, 2005 at 12:23 pm #1340572
Another food thought I had while hiking around the myriad of lakes in Ontario is the abundance (even into late November) of lake snails that are within easy reach. As a youngster, we use to catch these snails and saute them with some clarified butter, garlic powder, dried chili peppers, and black bean paste.
Seems to me snails (enough) may be an acquired taste but do have sustaining power. The trick is to eat them clean (no sand or biofilm embedded under the foot). Usually, you catch them and put them in a bucket of clean water for 2 days… but this can be improvised on the trail if you are going to pass the point again several days later. You can bring aquarium bags (1 or 2 would suffice) catch the snails, put them in the bags with a few clean rocks, and poke small holes in to let in fresh water, tie them off and secure them in water (rocky bottom, not sandy or standing water), come back 2-3 days later and enjoy your gourmet meal that you “harvested and cultivated” earlier on.
The other ingredients (1 dried chili pepper, 2 oz butter or oil, 1 oz black bean paste, 1 tsp salt) shouldn’t weigh more than 3.5-4 oz. Preparation can be done over an alcohol stove easily. Since this is more of a “stir fry” recipe all you need is max heat for 5-7 minutes.
I’ve tried it with store-bought snails from the local Chinese market. 1 oz methanol in my red bull stove is enough to cook a feed (25 snails) in an MSR Titan kettle.Aug 19, 2005 at 4:08 pm #1340575
snail infested water should be filtered before drinking due to the possibility of liver flukes. not all flukes infect humans, but several do. snails are the intermediate host for various types of flukes. not sure of the effectiveness of chemical purification methods. not saying it won’t work. just don’t know for sure. humans can be the definitive host.Aug 19, 2005 at 6:18 pm #1340585
I was thinking a double dose of Miox (2 L dose for 500 mL), then letting them sit for 1 hour.
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