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Bush Telegraph 2017

Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 21 - "Horse Mushroom"

Botanical name : Agaricus arvensis

Common names : Horse mushroom,

Physical appearance : Looks like a very large "field" mushroom (see last week's post), but larger, sometimes up to the size of a plate (up to 20cm across). Can grow up to 15cm in height. The scent it produces has been likened to almonds or aniseed. Its gills are initially pinkish in appearance then turn to a dark grey as the mushrooms matures. When the mushroom is very young, the cap is more oval than rounded. As it matures, the cap flattens out. The caps on young specimens have a yellowish tinge and get whiter as they mature.

(Immature specimen with closed cap and "cogwheel" pattern).

Edible parts : As with most edible mushrooms the cap and stalk can be eaten.

Best places to find : Pastures, lawns and hedgerows. Often found in close proximity to stinging nettles as it also likes nutrient rich soil.

Time of year : This fungi tends to ripen between July and August.

Serving suggestions : There are many recipes for field mushrooms, especially as these are very common and eaten widely. For a puritan recipe, remove all debris with brush or damp cloth. Melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. Once melted and bubbling lightly, add the mushrooms whole and fry for 3-4 minutes only. As wild mushrooms generally contain more water than cultivated varieties, cooking them for longer may cause them to stew in their own juices making them rubbery. Keep cooking times short. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a slice of buttered bread. Delicious! This recipe works well for many wild mushrooms.

Other  : Slice the mushrooms thinly and fry in a little oil. Mix in some fresh pesto sauce and serve on pasta.

Poisonous mushrooms!!!! - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

Discard any mushrooms that look similar but have pure white gills or leave pink or yellow stains when handled. Two mushrooms commonly mistaken for the horse mushroom are the "blusher" and the yellow staining mushroom (Amontia rubescens and Agaricus xanthodermus respectively). Neither is generally fatally poisonous but both can cause serious stomach upsets leading to violent vomiting.

Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 20 - "Field Mushroom"

Botanical name : Agaricus campestris

Common names : Field mushroom, meadow mushroom

Physical appearance : The field mushroom has a short white stem with a domed white cap which becomes more flat in shape as it matures. As it grows older, its cap develops more brown scales. When young, the gills are enclosed in a white veil and are initially pink. Subsequently they darken and become brown then eventually black. In immaturity, the ring around the stalk is initially joined to the cap but eventually disconnects from the cap as it matures.

Edible parts : As with most edible mushrooms the cap and stalk can be eaten.

Best places to find : Meadows, lawns and hedgerows. Rarely found in woodland environments.

Time of year : This fungi tends to ripen between July and August.

Serving suggestions : There are many recipes for field mushrooms, especially as these are very common and eaten widely. For a puritan recipe, remove all debris with brush or damp cloth. Melt a generous knob of butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. Once melted and bubbling lightly, add the mushrooms whole and fry for 3-4 minutes only. As wild mushrooms generally contain more water than cultivated varieties, cooking them for longer may cause them to stew in their own juices making them rubbery. Keep cooking times short.

Other  : Field mushroom soup, mushroom pate.

A very quick recipe for soup :

Simmer the chopped and cleaned mushrooms in milk for approximately 30 minutes. Season to taste and liquidize everything together. Can be served hot or cold and is delicious either way.

Poisonous mushrooms!!!! - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

Discard any mushrooms that look similar but have pure white gills or leave pink or yellow stains when handled. Two mushrooms commonly mistaken for the field mushroom are the "blusher" and the yellow staining mushroom (Amontia rubescens and Agaricus xanthodermus respectively). Neither is generally fatally poisonous but both can cause serious stomach upsets leading to violent vomiting.

Did you know... You can find water using insects!

Using insects to find water can be a life saving technique in a survival situation. This is more so the case when other signs of water are hard to find. Looking out for the following may save your life;

1) Bees - Bee hives can be found in rocks, in tree stumps, in branches of trees and in hives situated on the ground. Bees usually build their hives within five miles of a water source. If you find a hive, you can observe which direction the bees are flying in and try to follow them. Alternatively, find a high vantage point close to the hive and look for dark green vegetation (a good sign of the presence of water).

2) Mosquitoes - These pesky insects breed in standing or slow moving water. If you happen on several swarms of mosquitoes, you must be close to a water source. Please be aware, stagnant water sources should be treated with caution. Make sure you filter and sterilise the water!

3) Ants - If you happen upon and ant hill, look out for a long line of ants. They may lead you to a water source. This could be a pool, pond or even a small resevoir of water trapped in a tree stump or within a rock formation. Again, all still bodies of water should be filtered and sterilised before consumption.

4) Flies - Flies are a very good indicator to the presence of water. In the vast majority of cases, flies will not be more than a hundred metres from a water source. Follow them to water.

When dealing with bodies of standing water (or even moving water in some instances), look around first. Are there a lot of dead fish or animals lying close to the water source? This could be an indicator that the water source contains chemicals, minerals or other toxins, making it dangerous for consumption. Stains and strong unnatural colours on the banks are another indicator of pollutants. Sources of pollution include pesticides, factory effluent and natural mineral content from ground source.

A further indicator is the lack of flora and fauna in or around the water source. Approach with caution!

The Bushgear Team.

July 10, 2017

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Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 19 - "Green Walnut"

Botanical name : Juglans regia

Common names : Walnut, Green Walnut

 

Physical appearance : A deciduous tree with spreading crown. Its bark is grey and fissured and can grow up to 30 metres in height. Its leaves are pinnate and alternate and have 5-9 leaflets. It has both male and female flowers with male catkins on new growth and female clusters on old wood. Its fruit is green and fleshy (approximately 4-5cm) with a wrinkled stone inside.

 

Edible parts : The berries can be eaten raw or can be prepared in many different ways. The leaves can also be used for flavouring or to make various infusions.

(Male flower)

Best places to find : Most commonly found on cultivated land although occasionally, they can be found in warm spots such as hedgerows. Seeds can be spread by birds and mammals.

Time of year : The fruits tend to ripen between July and August.

Serving suggestions : The nuts can be collected when green or when slightly more ripe and dry.

Other uses : The nuts can be made into several preserves, either sweet or savory. Naturally, the nuts can be eaten in their raw state.

NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

How To Make A Wilderness Medical / First Aid Kit

Ideally, it is best not to treat serious injuries in the field. At best, you should expect to stabilise your patient and get him/her/yourself to a hospital as quickly as possible.

If you are very far out into the wilderness, it may be the case that you will need to fully treat a patient in the field. You may have to be lead doctor, even if you are treating yourself. This will never be a desirable situation, as the chances of infection or mistreatment vastly increase due to the fact that there is no bacterial protection in the wild and conditions for field surgery will never be ideal.

So, this means that what you will be able to do, will be somewhat limited, particularly if you have no medical training. So, to keep this guide practical, it is important to asses realistically, what kind of treatments you are competent to administer, after all mistreatment can be worse than no treatment at all.

Treating the most common injuries - Particularly in wilderness settings, the most common types of injuries include - sprains, strains, breaks, bites, cuts, sores, flesh wounds, burns and other mechanical injuries.

A comprehensive first aid kit,  should include some if not all of the following items:

(1) An antiseptic such as - surgical spirit, Savlon liquid or similar, iodine spray or liquid, varying concentrations of potassium permangenate (if you know how to dilute the crystals correctly in water).

(2) Plenty of plasters, cotton buds, bandages, tape, moleskine bandages,  non-lubricated condoms, trauma bandage, tampons, butterfly and regular sutures.

(3) Medical grade surgical gloves, cpr mask, tourniquet, scissors, tweezers, small surgical blades (scalpels).

(4) Burn gel, pain killers,  anti-diarrhea pills, antihistamines, chlorine tablets for the the treatment of water, a general course of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, blood clotting agent (eg sports clot). If you are dependent on any other types of medication, then you should be sure you have as much of it as you would  need.

(5) Small, natural CRI flashlight with spare batteries. We would recommend a head torch over a hand held version as it is a lot more practical, in a first aid context.

(6) Medium sized space blanket and some cordage. Can be used to keep a patient warm, therefore minimising the chances of shock. These items can also be used to rig up a quick, emergency shelter to keep a patient out of the elements.

(7) Cotton buds, eyewash, an energy bar or candy and an electrolyte drink or similar. Malaria treatment tablets (if you are traveling into a malaria infested area). Similarly, other treatments should be carried if the causes are common to the area.

As a general rule, the further into the wild one travels, the more medical supplies one should carry, equally, the more medical knowledge one should have (to treat more severe, serious injuries).

Ultimately, this is just a preliminary guide to some good first aid options. These items will help you overcome 99% of the most common medical situations.

If you are unsure as to how any of the items mentioned should be used, please do the appropriate research and find out! We will also be happy to provide small pointers, if you have any particular questions.

Naturally, being well informed and partially trained, will allow you to treat a greater range of injuries, with confidence. Being able to do so could, ultimately, save someone from a very long trip to a hospital or could even save the whole expedition/trip! It could even save someone from dying.

Always go prepared!

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Wild Edible Of The Week - Week 18 - "Blackcurrant"

Botanical name : Ribes nigrum

Common names : Blackcurrant,

Physical appearance : An upright shrub growing up to 1.5 metres high. Its flowers have drooping, stalked spikes. Its berries are opaque black and begin to appear in June and ripen in July.

Edible parts : The berries can be eaten raw or can be prepared in many different ways. The leaves can also be used for flavouring or to make various infusions.

Best places to find : Most commonly found in damp woodlands, hedges and by water.

Time of year : The fruits tend to ripen between June and July.

Serving suggestions : Being high in pectin, blackcurrants make excellent jam and can be used to bulk out many other jams and preserves. The berries are commonly used to make a variety of cakes, desserts and puddings and are added for flavour to alcohol, teas and other drinks. Blackcurrants also work well with meats, particularly game. Polar explorers used "pemmican" an  American dish consisting of currants, dried meat and fat. Pemmican is nutritionally a very well balanced meal which contains almost everything one needs to stay healthy and alive. Ideal for long journeys.

Other uses : A great source of vitamin C, Vitamin B 1,2,3,5 and 6, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Water, Fat, Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. In its preserved state, blackberry preserves can offer a great boost in mid winter.

NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look similar to one another and many can be poisonous!  Please seek professional instruction if you are unsure! Don't risk your life!!!

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