Can you eat bark?  

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question, “Can you eat bark?”

Can you eat bark?

Yes, you can eat bark. As long as you use the proper part of the bark from the right kind of tree, eating tree bark is a healthy and safe option for foraging. 

That crusty, corky, gray layer of bark is not what we’re referring to, by the way. The outer sheath layer, which is adjacent to the wood, is the most desirable part of the bark for consumption.

Plenty of our forebears consumed and medicated with the inner bark of trees. The inner bark of pines as well as other trees was a staple food for many indigenous peoples in the Americas. There were large areas where this practice was so popular that early travelers to North America noted entire acres of trees with their bark scraped off for human use.

Pine bark bread is a traditional food in Sweden and Finland that is made using rye flour and the toasted, crushed inner layer of pine bark. 

Huge pieces of Pine bark were stripped from the woods in the spring by the Sami of northern Europe, dried, and consumed as a staple meal all year long. According to legend, this bark may be eaten in a variety of forms, including fresh, dried, and even roasted.

All year long, it is possible to extract significant quantities of inner tree bark by “skinning” a single tree or by using live branches which have snapped off during storms. Depending upon the species as well as the environment in which the tree is grown, the bark could be bitter tasting despite being relatively nutritious (containing 500 to 600 calories per pound). 

Digestible carbohydrates, sugar, vitamins, minerals, plus loads of fiber may be found in most inner bark; nevertheless, you should be prepared for a thorough cleansing of your digestive tract.

For at least 1 Native American group, bark is a staple food item. Adirondack is an Iroquoian word that means “bark eaters,” and it is the name of a tribe that once lived there in the mountains of New York’s upstate.

Where can you find information about trees with edible bark?

The first step is to use a reliable tree identification guide or consult a real-life arborist to determine the exact kind of tree you’re dealing with.

The next step is to shave away the outside, gray bark and the inner, green bark until we reach the rubbery, inner layer of bark, which is white or cream in color. Too close of a shave will reveal the bark beneath. 

The bark is noticeably more pliable. The tree’s wood is tough and smooth under your knife’s edge. Remove the inner bark, which is white and sticky, by cutting it. This is the target you’re aiming towards.

You can use fresh bark off the tree if you want to fry it and consume it right away. Simply pan-fry the bark strips in a few tablespoons of oil until they are crisp, about three minutes per side. 

To us, the closest approximation of the texture is “Bark Jerky,” however the flavor is obviously different. Pine bark tastes resemble Pine sawdust because it basically is sawdust; to mask the flavor, you’ll need to get creative when incorporating it into other recipes.

The next step, whether you intend to turn the bark into flour or store it for later use, is to dry it. If you are not going to use the bark right away, you should dry it in the sunlight on a rack or a flat rock. 

Depending on the weather conditions and the size of the bark strips, drying time should be around a day. Upon drying, pine bark transforms into a flour that is more like oatmeal than traditional wheat flour. 

The dried bark can be ground between stones if you’re feeling old fashioned, but a speedier method is to simply throw bits into a food processor or blender. Put the powdered bark in a cool, dark area after pulsing the device to make it into a powder.

Most species of Pine, Sticky Elm, Black Birch, Yellow Birch, Red Spruce, Black Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Tamarack are trees with edible inner bark.

Pine, among its competitors, appears to have been the most widely used by our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Most North American Pine species are, in fact, edible. Some parts of the pine tree, including the inner bark and the nuts, are edible. Pine Needle Tea, a vitamin C powerhouse made from steeping a teaspoon of chopped Pine needles in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes, is a wonderful way to start the day.

Pregnant women should avoid drinking Pine Needle Tea and consuming pine needles since they may be detrimental to their unborn children. For the same reason, you shouldn’t use pine needles from the western Pine Trees or the southern Loblolly Pine to make tea.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question, “Can you eat bark?”

References

https://www.throughthetrees.org/blog/50085-survival-skills-eating-tree-bark#

https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/2011/11/survival-foods-can-you-really-eat-tree-bark/

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