South­west For­ag­ing by John Slat­tery

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

Gather thee cacti: South­west For­ag­ing If you think that all night­shades — other than toma­toes, pep­pers, pota­toes, and egg­plant — are poi­sonous, it isn’t true. The berries of black night­shade make a “su­perbly de­li­cious” pie, says John Slat­tery in South­west For­ag­ing: 117 Wild and Fla­vor­ful Edibles from Bar­rel Cactus to Wild Oregano (Tim­ber Press). If you’re a fan of Euell Gibbons’ clas­sic Stalk­ing the Wild As­para­gus (first pub­lished in 1962), you’ll love this book’s 326 pages and hun­dreds of color pho­tos.

Take mal­low — a “weed” that grows just about ev­ery­where. Slat­tery in­vites us to use the young leaves in a salad, stir-fry, or soup — but ju­di­ciously, be­cause they’re “slightly rough when raw or a bit slimy (for some) if used in ex­cess in a cooked dish,” some­what like its “cousin,” okra. You can also purée and boil the young roots, use the plant for gumbo, meringue pies, and thicker sauces. Mal­low is also known as cheese­weed be­cause the seed cap­sules look like lit­tle wheels of cheese; these have a nutty fla­vor and can be eaten as a trail snack, or taken home and cooked. Mal­low tea is a gen­tle treat­ment for sore throat or cough. The plant likes dis­turbed soil, in­clud­ing along road­sides — and the au­thor ad­vises “avoid­ing ar­eas prone to toxic ac­cu­mu­la­tions,” such as spray or runoff tox­ins, where you are think­ing of col­lect­ing.

The fo­cus of South­west For­ag­ing is on food plants — there is noth­ing here about osha and other strictly medic­i­nal herbs — but health­ful at­tributes for many species are noted. The berries of man­zanita, for ex­am­ple, make a good jelly, while the leaves can be used to make an as­trin­gent medicine for the uri­nary tract.

Slat­tery is the founder of Desert Tor­toise Botan­i­cals and the Sono­ran Her­bal­ist Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­gram in Tuc­son. His new book is strong on the proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the plants, and he cau­tions read­ers to col­lect sus­tain­ably.

— Paul Wei­de­man

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.