Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eat The Weed DOT com YouTube episode on Smilax! The original root used in Sasperilla and Root Beer.

Very interesting video. I don't know that Smilax grows in this region. I couldn't find it in our Plants of the Pacifc Northwest which is a bummer because it looked interesting and kind of yummy!
I am going to look this up and wrtie to Green Dean. He is a great fellow who loves to talk about wildlife plants aka weeds. If I remember right, he is from the East Coast. So you eastcoast folks should give it a try. There is also a receipe for rootbeer using the Smilax root.


From Green Deane's Website
"...There used to be a field in Sanford, Florida, near Lake Monroe, that was nearly overrun with growing Smilax every spring. I could get a couple of quarts of tender tips easily over a few weeks, enough for many side dishes. Cooked like asparagus or green beans, they are excellent, and also edible raw in small quantities..."
"Oh, about that field in Sanford: A century ago it was a truck farm producing celery and other vegetables. Then it fell fallow growing smilax. Now it’s an apartment complex."

There is a look alike that Deane warns about on his video and in the text. Tick the title to redirect to the video.
Here is the link to his site;


Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile
A climbing shrub with tuberous roots, knobby white roots tinged with pink, bamboo like stems, more or less thorny, leaves varying with species and on the bush, tiny flowers, five slim petals, fruit round, green turning to black, one small brown seed. Some species have red fruit, edibility of red fruit unreported.

Starts putting on shoots in February in Florida, later in the season as one moves north. Seeds germinate best after a freeze.

It grows best in moist woodlands, but can tolerate a lot of dry and is often seen climbing trees. Left on its own with nothing to climb it sometimes creates and brambly shrub. Thicket provides protection for birds.

Beside making sarsaparilla, the roots can be used in soups or stews, young shoots eaten cooked or in small quantities raw, berries can be eaten both raw and cooked, usually are chewed like gum (avoid the large seed.) Pounds of roots to pounds of flour is a 10 to one ratio.
More from Green Deane
Mythologically speaking;
Name Smilax comes from Greek Mythology with several variations.
Smilax was a beautiful young nymph who fell in love with a mortally young Spartan named Crocus . Crocus fell in love with Hermes. Hermes turned him into a flower named Crocus where we also get saffron. Smilax was heart broken because her love was now a blooming idiot. Aphrodite took pity on her and turned her into a vine so that Smilax could always be with her Crocus.
Thanks Deane!

Photo sketch from;
Photo picture of
Smilax rotundifolia & S. auriculata From;

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Banana This; Recycle Old Peels~ fertilizer or silver polish

There are things you can do with that old peel.

1. Do you have a green thumb? House hold plants and outside gardens require fertilization. A great way to give your plants nutrients is with a banana peel. The banana peel is very rich in potassium and phosphorus, which give that added boost to your plants soil, especially so with roses. Here is how to use a banana peel to fertilizer your soil for your plants. Remove the peel from the banana. Place the banana peel on a cookie sheet to let it air dry. Grab a paper bag or envelope. Crumble the dried banana peel and place it in the bag. Let the banana sit at room temperature for about two days. When your caring for your plant, give it a potassium treat of crumbled banana peel. Mix well in the soil to ensure the roots are fed evenly.
2. Have you been thinking about pulling out that old silver? Well there is no time like the present. Bananas peel can also be used to polish silver. Yes, polish silver. Take the old peels and place them in a blender. You want the peels to become smooth and creamy. Once they have, grab a cloth and small amounts of the creamed banana peel and begin polishing your silver. The shine will be breath taking.


Wild yeasts exist in the air around you and to some extent on the wheat berries. There are wild yeasts on grapes (unsulphured) and apples and other fruits. It is those wild yeasts which are 'captured' to make a sourdough starter. The process takes from 3 to 5 days. I wish I had specific amounts for you, but you could start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour and mix in enough warm (not hot) water to make a thin paste. DO NOT make it too soupy. That, in fact, is the trick to a good starter, according to the French bread makers, and I think they should know. And after you've fooled around with the flour and water thing, you might wish to branch out into adding those unsulphured grapes, apples, sour milk, etc as a catalyst in order to capture other strains of yeast. Each of these strains has a slightly different taste. In fact if you move to another area, you might end up with a starter that produces an entirely different flavor. For instance, San Francisco sourdough bread is well known and has a distinct taste due to the wild strains in the air there. On day one you mix the flour and water (and add any catalysts to encourage fermentation) and place in a warm spot. After 3 days, the dough should be moist, inflated, and slightly sour. More flour and water is added (mixed in) and left to sit in a warm spot. After 2 days the process is repeated. Then the next day it is done again. Note the order: 3 days, 2 days, 1 day. At this point you should be able to make a loaf of bread using part of the starter and adding back what you took out in the form of more flour and water. Rule of thumb: Use about 10% starter to size of loaf. In the case of a 2 lb loaf this is a bit over 3 oz of starter (3.2 to be exact). For a 1 lb loaf 1.5 oz would be used. A book that describes this process in great detail is The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz, copyright 1993, published by Ten Speed Press, Berkley CA. If it's not still in print, try the used books stores, that's where I got mine. Or try your local library. If they don't have it, they might be able to get it for you. ©2008 by Ernestina Parziale

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