Survival Food Source: Harvesting and Preparing Bark for Consumption from North American Trees

In a survival situation, it’s crucial to know what resources are available to you. One often overlooked resource is the bark of trees. Yes, you read that right. Certain types of tree bark can be harvested and prepared for consumption, providing a valuable source of nutrients when other food sources may be scarce. This article will delve into the specifics of which North American trees have edible bark, how to harvest it, and how to prepare it for consumption.

Which Trees Have Edible Bark?

Not all tree barks are edible, and some can even be harmful if ingested. However, there are several types of trees in North America whose bark can be safely consumed. These include:

  • Pine: The inner bark, or cambium, of many pine trees is edible.
  • Slippery Elm: The inner bark of the slippery elm tree is not only edible but also used medicinally.
  • Black Birch: The inner bark of the black birch tree is edible and has a wintergreen flavor.
  • Yellow Birch: Similar to the black birch, the yellow birch’s inner bark is also edible.

How to Harvest Tree Bark

Harvesting tree bark should be done with care to avoid damaging the tree. Here’s how:

  1. Identify the tree correctly. Make sure it’s one of the edible varieties.
  2. Use a sharp knife to make a horizontal cut in the tree’s bark.
  3. Make a second cut a few inches below the first.
  4. Connect the two cuts with a vertical one.
  5. Peel away the outer bark to reveal the inner bark.
  6. Scrape off the inner bark, being careful not to damage the tree’s wood.

Preparing Bark for Consumption

Once you’ve harvested the bark, it needs to be processed before it can be eaten. Here’s how:

  1. Dry the bark. This can be done by leaving it in the sun or by a fire.
  2. Once dry, grind the bark into a powder. This can be done with a mortar and pestle or a rock.
  3. The bark powder can then be added to soups or stews, used as a flour substitute in breads or pancakes, or mixed with water and consumed as a tea.

In conclusion, while tree bark may not be the most appetizing food source, it can be a lifesaver in a survival situation. Knowing which trees have edible bark, how to harvest it, and how to prepare it can make all the difference when food is scarce.