Green Flour?

Posted on 13th September 2010 in Food Preservation, Garden, Health & Fitness, Juice Plus, Wild Edibles

Well, as promised some time ago, I did plant my last few clover seeds in a patch of soil in my back yard that was not otherwise needed–because clover is both a great green manure (they say) and because it is edible. How can you lose with that combo? And I thought that the clover might be a good emergency food supply because most people would simply ignore it and leave my supply be.

The clover came up big and beautiful, pleasing me no end. Did you know that clover doesn’t just arrive in a 3-leaf format? I have several 4- and even 5-leaf clover plants! I harvested some a couple of times to hide in salads; however, my great plan for this summer was to harvest and dehydrate everything in sight so I didn’t take too much clover early on. I’ve pretty much kept my awesome Excalibur dehydrator going day and night (except for sabbath) preserving at any given time whatever most demanded to be harvested. The clover had to wait, but no matter–it kept growing big and beautiful, and from time to time I pulled whatever weeds were obvious in the clover patch. Obvious, I say, because I had also planted a number of  ground cherries throughout the clover patch without plotting them on a map (what was I thinking?) and couldn’t identify them for a long time. (Ground cherries are like tomatillos; ours are little yellow balls protected in a paperish husk. Quite tasty, actually.)

One week a big container of strawberries we had purchased from Costco pretty much all rotted and when I complained about the wasted money, my son reminded me that strawberries are just big masses of seeds so they should sprout if we plant them. Now we had an opportunity to try out that theory, so we stuck red craft sticks in the soil around one side of the clover and ground cherry patch and plopped a big red moldy strawberry below each one.

I diligently watered my clover and ground cherries and strawberries all spring and looked forward to the day when I could harvest and dehydrate the clover. Dehydrate the clover? Yep. Linda Runyon’s book “The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide” mentions “green flour” several times and I’ve seen “green flour” in many places on the internet as well. When I think “flour,” I think of wheat or rye–but one dictionary definition is “a fine soft powder.” The same definition also says that flour can be made from other materials, even fish! Fish flour? Hmmm… So this old brain is learning to think outside of the flour-bin, er, box and consider other options when the word “flour” is heard or read. I’ve been making almond flour this summer from the pulp left over from making almond milk. (I would really love some good recipes for using that, if you have any!)

So all spring and summer I’ve been dehydrating kale and beet greens and kohlrabi leaves and early jade chinese cabbage greens and radish greens and turnip greens and mustard greens and chard and even lettuce–and a lot more stuff! Did you know that you can eat broccoli and brussel sprout leaves, and even bean leaves? I haven’t tried the bean leaves yet, but I did decide to dehydrate broccoli and brussel sprout leaves to use in stir fry dishes and soups during the winter. Besides the leaves, I’ve also dehydrated the chopped stems of all these plants. (And, of course, “regular” produce like beans and tomatoes, as well.)

I left some of these leafy green things in their leaf or stem form but, for the sake of variety and space and most of all for winter green smoothies, I powdered quite a bit of it. That is to say, I made green flour. Lots of different kinds of green flour. I figure I could have green smoothies every day all winter and still not run out of green flour! In fact, the thought is niggling in the back of my mind that I really need to figure out or find some recipes for creamed name-the-green soup (made with nutmilk since we don’t use dairy or soy milk anymore).

I also need to experiment with substituting green flour for wheat flour in some baked recipes–so I can figure out just how far I can push the envelope ratio-wise. Of course, such recipes must be simple and cheap because I am thinking in preparedness mode here. All the stuff I’m dehydrating won’t do me a speck of good if I cannot turn them into healthy rations for my clan! If you have good recipes, bring them on! Or share websites that provide this specific type of recipe. If I come up with some unique recipes of my own I will be sure to post them in the Health=Wealth section of my website.

Okay, so baked goods aren’t always the best foods (it’s better to eat veggies and fruits raw) but when push comes to shove in the difficult days before us my family is going to eat whatever we can put together. Green biscuits, green pancakes, green soup, green drinks…

Here is something I never thought of that before! The stuff in the Juice Plus capsules is green flour! No wonder Juice Plus has been taking such good care of me all these years–the capsules are full of highly nutrient dense foods juiced, dehydrated, and powdered down so that a scant teaspoonful or two is all I need per day. But I digress…

Unfortunately, my clover never made it to the dehydrator! Just when I was getting ready to harvest it an ugly plant disease spread through my garden–white powdery mildew. The poor lilacs got coated with it! This scourge infects cucurbits–so I had to regularly cut white spotted leaves off my cucumbers, squashes and pumpkins for many weeks. In the later stages of its spread through my garden the powdery mildew infected my peas, too, so I had to discard even the sugar snap pods–though the peas themselves were still edible. Phew! Fortunately, one does not eat the leaves of these plants and the mildew does not affect the fruit.

But when I saw powdery mildew on my big beautiful clover, that was the last straw. I’m NOT eating leaves that have even the slightest chance of having powdery mildew spores on them, so the clover had to go. I started to hack off the clover and discard it through the city’s garbage system (instead of my compost) but harvesting clover turned out to be a more uncomfortable job than I thought, just because of the way I designed this bed and because clover is a small plant. Live and learn. A couple of insufferably hot days amongst the clover was all I could handle, so I just let the remaining clover grow up around the ground cherries (haven’t seen any strawberries yet) and actually it is a very pretty sight. Next year I’ll harvest my clover (if there is any) earlier–before the mildew arrives–so I can make clover-flour-whatevers the following winter.

And now I must go–kale is on the agenda today. Kale soup, anyone?

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