Survival Skills: Four Uses for Summer Berries

berries

My favorite thing about summer (aside from fishing) is the bounty of berries. Raspberry, blackberry, black raspberry, wine berry, and blueberry bushes are coming into season now around much of the country. Sure, you could just eat them off the bush and be quite happy, but it’s always nice to have some options. Here are four different ways to use summer's berries.

Juice: If a person was stranded without safe drinking water or food, he could rehydrate and gain a few calories by drinking berry juice. To make it, place your confirmed edible berries in a clean bandana. They can be blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, or a blend of multiple species. Gather up the corners of the bandana and twist it so that the berries are enclosed. Mash the bundle a little with your hands, and twist the bandana even more to squeeze the juice into a waiting cup. Repeat the mashing and twisting until the juice stops running. This delicious drink provides vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and, of course, much needed fluid. Consuming the juice in this way makes more sense than just eating the berries, as your your system would require stored water in your body to pass all those seeds.

T****rap Bait: Tasty berries are a valuable food source for many species, so it makes sense to use them to trap animals in a survival situation (berry season and legal trapping seasons couldn't be any farther apart). This form of bait works best at the beginning and very end of berry season. Animals aren't going to go near a pile of berries tainted with human scent if other berries are available. Use berries for bait when they are in short supply or out of the animal's reach, and you might just have more than berries for dinner.

Blackberry Leaf Tea: A tasty tea for everyday drinking, blackberry leaves are a common component of many herbal tea blends. A stronger and more frequent dose of blackberry leaf tea can help to relieve diarrhea. Collect the green leaves from the same blackberry shrubs (Rubus spp.) that grow berries—(before, during, or after fruiting)—and dry them. Steep two teaspoons of dried leaf in a mug of hot water. Drink this and repeat every few hours until symptoms subside. For a stronger dose, use the roots with the same proportions and timing.

Dried Fruit: Your dehydrator trays are the easiest place to make dried berries. Use a little heat from the unit to hasten the process and reduce the risk of spoilage while drying. You could also dry them outdoors in the sun on window screens or dehydrator trays. Store your finished dried berries in a cloth sack or paper bag to allow them to "breathe." Once dried, they can be eaten as-is or ground up and incorporated into baked goods.

What do you make from your local berries? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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To read more from Tim MacWelch, follow him on Twitter (@TimMacWelch) and purchase his survival manuals, including the latest: How to Survive Anything