Can You Eat Bark
You can eat bark as a safe and nutritious wild food. The inner bark can be eaten raw as it contains a surprising amount of starches, sugars, vitamins, minerals, and tons of fibers that are highly digestible. Another option is to boil or fry the bark by cutting it into thin strips.
Eating twigs may seem like something that you only would want to do if you were desperate for survival. When you hear the phrase “eating bark,” your mind likely goes straight for some kind of dire survival situation, but that is historically not how it works. Sure, using bark as your main food source is something that only you would do in the most desperate conceivable survival situation.
In the United States, and in most other parts of the world, eating bark from trees is fairly safe while out in the wilderness, provided that you know which type of tree it is, and which parts of the bark you are specifically using as a food. While eating tree bark is a last-ditch effort at self-sustainability, if you know how, tree bark may also be quite tasty for eating during the worst-case scenarios.
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Eating the inside bark of some trees is what is commonly called a great source of food in survival situations, particularly during winter, when there is little else to eat. Based on my own experiences with these types of trees, it certainly seems like eating the inside bark of some trees could provide some needed calories in a survival situation. The outer bark of the tree is mostly there to protect the tree from the elements and does not provide a lot of calories.
Once you realize the inner bark is a transportation area for the trees water, nutrients, and carbohydrates, it becomes clear why the tree can be killed by having its bark wrapped around it. The reason for this is because the inner barks most significant sources are located lower in the trunk, and cutting that portion of the tree could harm every portion of the tree above. Removing the ring of bark could kill even the most robust tree, because it cuts off food and water flow between roots and the rest of the tree.
|Bark is nutrient-dense||Providing 500-600 calories per pound, depending on tree species, soil, and other factors.|
|Outer Bark of tree||Does not provide a lot of calories.|
You also need to keep in mind the trees themselves; when you are pulling out inner bark, you need to be careful that you do not remove an entire ring, otherwise you are killing the tree by cutting the watering system that allows the rootwater to reach the leaves. What we have to do as foragers, if we are going to harvest inner bark without killing the tree, is to ensure there is a lot of intact cambium, phloem, and sapwood all around the trunk, allowing this transport to move up from the roots and down from the leaves. I should note that harvesting the inner bark of a tree may kill it, and should only be done on trees that are slate-like to cut anyway (as my trees are). First, you should know that you can only eat the inner part of the bark, that is, the one near the trunk.
In this article, I have ordered these trees in order of worst to best, according to the viability of eating significant amounts of inner bark. Below, I talk more about the following types of trees, their bark, what it tastes like, and how to actually process and eat it to survive.
Many of the species of trees that produce edible barks also have medicinal properties, and they can also be used for other purposes, including making ropes, building shelters, and tools, making them good friends for the survivalist. Whether or not you are in a survival situation, the bark and other parts of some trees contain chemicals that possess potent medicinal properties. While most trees have edible, or at least harmless, bark and cambium, there are toxic ones loaded with tannins and cyanide, such as those found in yews and cherries. All other parts of a tree, including bark, contain cyanogenic glycosides that are toxic to humans.
The soft interior bark is part of the cortex, the plant tissue which transports food and water throughout all different parts of the tree. To harvest the trees bark, the gray outer bark must be removed, along with the greener mid-layer bark, in order to reach the nutrient-rich inner layer, called the cambium. While tree bark may have a somewhat wooden texture, when you pick out the inner layer, or cambium, it will usually have a somewhat sweet flavor because of its sap content. Birch bark is slightly sweeter than many of the other varieties of edible tree bark, and is frequently used as an aromatic accent, because of the flavor that is similar to wintergreen.
When turned into a bark flour and used in baked goods, it can add an interesting accent of flavour as well as adding nutritional value to breads and cookies. If you captured some wild animals, bark powder from trees can be used to enhance nutritional value, or you can make a base loaf of bread or cookies with it. Tree bark powder can be used to add nutritional value to any wild animals that you have captured, or it can be used to bake a basic loaf of bread or cookie. Bark is nutrient-dense, providing 500-600 calories per pound, depending on tree species, soil, and other factors.
There are approximately 550 calories in one pound of bark from trees, making it nutritionally dense for something you can forage with ease. Tree bark provides around 500-600 calories per pound which is fairly nutritionally dense for a plant that can be foraged relatively easily. While tree bark might not normally appear to be the most appealing food source, it will keep you fed and alive, and can also be tasty.
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Like shoe leather and hardtack cookies, tree bark is one of those things that will come in at the bottom of your food list, if it makes it onto your list at all.
The drawback of using black Birch for it is edible inner bark is that, unlike other trees on this list, Birchs inner bark is not soft, it is pretty dry and gritty, kinda like eating sawdust, and is difficult to peel off of the outer bark. Although it is usually pretty bitter, the inner bark can be peeled off and eaten raw, and since it forms a transport system for food to the tree, is sweetened with sap. In addition to using it to make butter infusions and powerful tinctures, the wonderfully moist innermost bark layer can be eaten. Up until this point, you may have thought of the coarse outer layers every time you have read about the tree bark, but in reality, it is the inner layers you are going to want to have in your food.
What does bark taste like?
Tree bark can have a little woody texture, but if you harvest the inner layer or cambium, it frequently tastes slightly sweet since it contains sap. While the bark of some trees, such as the birch, may be somewhat more bitter, the bark of other trees may be spicier or have a mild minty flavor.
Can you digest wood?
Amylases are enzymes that are produced by humans and break down starch into sugar molecules that can be used as fuel. Furthermore, humans lack the necessary enzymes to decompose cellulose, thus no matter how finely crushed the wood is, it will just slip past us undigested.