I’ve got a bunch of inky caps mushrooms deliquescing in a jar. And a new to me mushroom that’s all over our yard makes a great yellow stain. I’ve been boiling it on a fire out side. So I bought Make Ink the book by Jason Logan that I was resisting buying because I couldn’t find a second hand copy. Omg I love this book. I want to marry this book.
Make Ink is about foraging for color in the city. Its beautiful and printed on lovely paper and the descriptions and stories and histories are dreamy. The book keeps repeating that there are no rules! Try everything!
Jason Logan publishes a free newsletter every Friday about color and ink making that is the only newsletter or blog I read regularly and I look forward to it every week. He is also working on a documentary called The Color of Ink.
The Wildcrafting Brewer by Pascal Bauder is enriching my foraging life. He uses foraging for brewing as a way to study, interpret and appreciate the local wildlife. He talks about the magic that is lost in contemporary mass produced products that replace the biologic ingredients that had medicinal and symbolic importance with synthetic flavors- that replace wild fermentation, a living process with mechanical carbonation- and sweeten them with mass produced, subsidized corn syrup. Grocery store soda pop is dead but wild fermented sodas and beers and wines are living brews, one of a kind nuanced experiences that strengthen and celebrate the local wildlife an our relationship with in.
His writing style is easy to read, exciting and repeats the parts that you need to read over again. The text works just the way a foraging obsession works. And he’s all about figuring out how to express the non monetary value of a plant or place. He explains the magic of knowing the wildlife around you so well.
I’ve been foraging for 4 big medicinal tea projects since spring. I loved drinking my forest tea every Sunday last winter and wished I could make it a daily practice. I quit fermenting Kombucha, because I didn’t need the large quantity of sugar in my diet and didn’t love the commercial products I was using but I miss the process…. Duh. The answer is simple. Ferment the medicinal teas I’ve been working so hard to collect. Use wild yeasts. Throw my own fermenting pots. Taste everything!
I’m very happy that my Underworld Tea is now Root Beer from the Rhyzosphere! My Forest Tea is now Marlborough Mead. I’ve got Monalulu Scrumpy and Blue Finger Fox Wine fermenting. And Sumac and Rosehip Pop. And my Moon Tea will be medicinal menstrual beer! It’s taken no time to get all this going. The book is beautifully illustrated and makes me feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit.
I know these guys as Winter Fireflies. Their eggs glow, their larva glow (I often see them as glow worms on the ground in the fall) and their pupa glow! But once they emerge as adults they glow for a few hours and then never again. They hide in the cracks of tree bark and over winter as adults and can live for several years.
They are active early in the spring and I found this one on a Box Elder (Manitoba Maple) as I approached it with my drill and tap. I looked for a good spot on the tree and this guy pointed me towards the prime spigot spot. I drilled and hung my bucket and felt like it was a very good oman that a Firefly was there.
I looked up the beetle and they are apparently also called Sap Bucket Beetles because they are Maple syrup sap bucket experts!
The essence of these leaves are in lots of mint candies, so we call this flavor minty, but it’s its own distinct flavor that’s sort of hot and cold at the same time.
Wintergreen essence does something magical with light. It absorbs Ultra Violet light and emits visible light. Did you ever crunch Wint-0-Green life savers in a dark closet with a friend? They make a big spark. It’s Triboluminescence, which all hard candy make when you crunch them, but the light being emitted is UV light. Wintergreen essence transforms the invisible UV light to visible light!
These plants stay green all winter. (I wonder if they are actually green when they are under the snow or if they go white when they are not photosynthesizing.) The berries ripened in the fall and are looking beautiful and fresh today, 5 or 6 months later.