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May 11, 2011

Wild Edible: Jack-In-The-Pulpit

For the last couple weeks I have been watching some shoots coming out of the ground, I haven’t been sure what they were so I have been keeping a pretty close watch, when I started to see the leaves develop I thought they might be Trillium’s as a single leaf stalk has a resemblance, however on my last trip out it was unmistakable that these were Jack-In-Pulpit’s.  They went from a shoot with a little leaf to the full plant you see here in a week or less.

These are a bit of a tricky wild edible from what I read, you can only eat the roots, and ONLY after they are totally dried.  The suggestion is to cut the roots into paper thin slices and then leave them out for upwards to three months before consuming, you can either eat them like potato chips, or grind them into a flour (which the Indians did).

The reason you must dry them so much is because they contain calcium oxalate crystals (Same as in skunk cabbage).  This will cause intense burning when you eat it, one of my wild edibles books compared it to eating liquid fire, while another of my books compared it to having a mouth full of glass shards mixed with cayenne pepper.  Boiling will not remove the calcium oxalate, only completely drying it will.

That being said, I do plan to harvest a small amount to try, but it will be sitting here until it is “gunpowder dry” to quote one of my wild edibles books!

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