There are seven distinct types of edible moss that can be identified by becoming acquainted with their distinguishing characteristics. Moss is edible raw, boiled, or pan-fried.
Before eating moss, it is critical to correctly identify it. Many species are toxic or inedible and should be avoided. Bringing a printed guide with you that indicates their characteristics, habitat, and even photos to see what they look like is the best way to identify moss.
What Is Moss?
Moss is a type of green plant that grows on other plants or even rocks. They thrive on moist surfaces, such as those found in tropical rainforests or in shaded areas. They are distinct plants because they lack a vascular system. This means they lack the ability to absorb and transport water and nutrients to the rest of the plant due to the absence of roots, trunks, or branches.
Where Can You Find Moss?
Moss can be found almost anywhere because it does not require specific conditions to thrive. Forest floors, rocks, stones, tree barks, and wood, as well as shady and moist areas, are the most common habitats. As a result, they are unlikely to be found in dry and well-lit areas because there will be insufficient water and too much sunlight.
Moss cannot grow in dirty or polluted environments because it requires clean, running fresh water.
Types Of Edible Moss
Reindeer moss, also known as caribou moss, can grow up to an inch in height. It has a grey appearance and many reproductive branches with red tips. From a distance, this type of moss appears to be a bouquet of flowers.
Reindeer moss is especially common in Canada and other tundra areas. It can be found growing over thin layers of soil or on top of rocks. It can, however, survive in a variety of habitats, so it can be found in both hot and cold, humid and dry, closed and open forests.
It SHOULD NOT BE EATEN RAW DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF ROCK DISSOLVING ACIDS. The best way to prepare it is to boil it until it is soft and then eat it.
This moss can also be crushed and boiled to make reindeer moss tea, a traditional herbal drink used to treat kidney stones and diarrhea.
The beard lichen is another name for Spanish moss. It thrives in warm, humid climates and is common in sunny or partially shaded areas from the southeastern United States to Argentina.
It is distinguished by its slender stem, which bears thin and curly scaled leaves measuring 2 to 6 centimeters in length. It grows in a distinct chain-like pattern that distinguishes it from other plants. It spreads through the spread of its leaves and seeds, which can occur when it is blown by the wind or when pollinators, such as birds, carry it to different locations.
This plant has almost no nutritional value or caloric content. It’s not the healthiest plant to eat, but it’ll suffice in a pinch. Furthermore, it is ideal for medical applications. It has a long history of medical applications, including promoting the flow of breast milk in pregnant women, easing childbirth, treating rheumatism, treating infantile epilepsy, acting as an estrogen substitute, and managing glucose levels.
Another edible lichen is commonly used to make perfumes but can also be eaten in survival situations. It has distinctive pale grey colour with hints of green on its body and can appear yellow-green when wet. When dry, it has a rough texture and when wet, it has a rubbery feel.
The branches are pointy and can reach a length of 3 to 8 centimeters. Oakmoss also has thalli that can grow to be 3 to 4 centimeters long. The thalli are bushy and branched, similar to deer antlers.
The oakmoss is found in temperate forests throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including Spain, North America, Portugal, and France.
This lichen is erect and upright, with distinct leaflike features that distinguish it from other mosses. This is distinguished by its pale chestnut colour, which can occasionally turn greyish-white. This moss can reach a height of 3 to 4 inches and has channelled or rolled branches. The flattened lobes with fringed edges at the tips of the branches are another distinguishing feature.
Iceland mosses can be found in abundance in mountainous forests in northern countries such as Wales, England, Ireland, and Scotland. It is so named because it is particularly abundant in Iceland’s north and west.
The entire plant can be eaten. It has a bitter, astringent taste that can be eliminated by boiling it in water with baking soda. When boiled in lye water, it can be stored for many years. It can also be used as an ingredient in bread and salads.
This is so named because it grows in abundance on the surfaces of rocks. It’s also found in open woods, cliffs, and moist areas. In North America and New England, rock tripe is abundant. It’s a tasty moss that was even eaten by American northern explorers centuries ago.
Rock tripe is distinguished by its circular and flat shape, which can be smooth or covered in blisters. Their centers are also attached to rocks, particularly non-calcareous or granite rocks.
The colour of rock tripe varies from grey to black or dark brown, with the attached underside being a darker shade with a velvety texture. When prepared and cooked, this moss feels leathery and rubbery to the touch but softens significantly.
The moss is edible, but it must be properly processed before consumption. Eating it raw can cause severe side effects such as bowel problems and nausea. Simply boil it in some water and baking soda to make it. You can also add other lichen spices to enhance the flavour. Exclude the moss’s base, which is attached to the rocks, because these parts may be filled with soil, dirt, and other inedible objects.
After boiling, gently pan-roast the moss until crisp and dry. Then, place the dried pieces in a pot of boiling water and cook for another hour. This moss is said to taste delicious. It can be eaten on its own or mixed into soup or pudding.
Because of its spongy structure and ability to hold a lot of water, Sphagnum Moss is excellent survival food. Survivalists have always eaten it to combat dehydration by squeezing the water out into your mouth.
Sphagnum moss is commonly found in wet and boggy areas, particularly in soil with a low pH or a high acidity. It is not found in woods or in water containing lime. This moss grows in small patches of dense, thick clumps. This moss grows so densely that it forms a bog mat that floats on top of the water.
The mat is so tightly knit and long-lasting that it can support the weight of a large moose. The roots are extremely shallow, and the leaves are extremely small. This moss grows no taller than 4 inches and is typically light green, yellow, pink, brown, or deep red in color.
How To Prepare And Cook Moss
First, go to a place where there is a lot of moss. Moss can be found in a variety of environments, but it is unlikely to grow on dry surfaces exposed to direct sunlight. They can be found under rocks, in damp corners, in shaded areas, and in other cracks through which water can pass. They are more likely to grow in areas that have not been disturbed.
Next, double-check that you have correctly identified the type of moss. If you are unsure of the classification of the moss, do not harvest it because it may be poisonous or inedible. You can tell if the moss is edible by bringing reference photos and a list of its distinguishing characteristics with you.
Gather the tools you’ll need to harvest the moss. To lift the moss from the surface in sheets, use thin and durable scraping tools such as a spatula or a knife. Remove any dirt or soil that has become attached to the moss’s bottom. If the moss grows in colonies or clumps, you can also cut them off.
Avoid moss colonies that appear to be decaying. Decay is distinguished by black or brown pants that have a foul odour and are slimy to the touch. There is no way to make these parts safe to eat through cooking or preparation.
Preparing And Cooking The Moss
It is critical to prepare and cook the moss in order to remove any excess acidity or strange taste. The most common way to prepare moss is to boil it for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it softens. To make the moss more appealing, season it with lard or other seasonings.
Another option is to pan-fry the boiled moss, which will make it crunchy, chewy, and delicious.