By Montana Grant

Posted: June 14, 2020

When Mountain Men roamed Montana there were no fast food joints. If you needed a snack, you needed to know what you could eat. Not every season offered every menu item. Certainly cherries, plums, and fruits were available, but for only a few weeks a year. Other flowering plants also had short windows of being on the menu.

Here are some examples of what were available more often.

CATTAILS    The fresh shots in the Spring made for great eating but the tubers or potato like roots could be eaten almost year around. The tube shape Spring shoots are like celery. Simply pull the green stalks and peel off the outer, tough, layers. You can munch on them like a celery or use them in a soup or salad. These eats are full of vitamins and nutrition. The brown heads later become full of pollen. You can shake off the heads and add them pollen to flour, so you can stretch the resource. Perfect for making breads and pancakes.

CACTUS      Prickly Pear cactus offer an abundant resource in even dry and remote landscapes. Overcoming the spines is a challenge but worth the effort. Slice the Cactus pads into strips and filet off any spines. These strips can be used in soups or a Prairie Stir Fry.

YELLOW BELLS   These lemony blossoms are perfect for adding color and a lemony flavor to your food. They are available at higher altitudes during most of the Summer. Feast on them raw or in other cooked meals or salads.

GLACIER LILLIES   The flowers, stems, and bulb/roots/corms, are tasty when eaten raw or cooked. These flowers, also known as Adders Tongue or Trout Lilies, are abundant along the watersheds.

DANDELIONS and CANADIAN THISTLE   These noxious weeds were not available during the time of the Mountain Man. They are present today and add some newer choices to you Fast Food Afield menu. The young, new leaves of the Dandelion are great when used in salads, or soups. Just pretend they are spinach. The Thistle has leaves that are very tender. The native ELK THISTLE was commonly used by the Mountain Men. Their roots and stalks are tasty and healthy to eat.

QUEEN ANNES LACE   This wild carrot adds roots and crunch to soups and salads. Pulling them up from the ground and chewing on them was simple and quick. The flat, round white flowers are also tasty.

CAMAS LILY   This flowering plant, also known as Wild Hyacinth, is available through the Spring – Fall. The root can be used as a flour or potato and was a mainstay of early peoples.

You may not find a Fast Food joint afield, but you are never without a snack!

Montana Grant

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