Page 3 - June 2014 - Chehalis Tribal Newsletter
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Continued from page 1... replant the smaller ones. Be careful not to split camas bulbs in half with your tool – this takes practice. If camas has gone to seed you can sprinkle the seeds back on open soil. Leave some large fowering plants so they can go to seed. Only keep bulbs that you can see fowering stocks on, since death camas bulbs and leaves look almost identical. Consider weeding invasive plants including Scotch broom and St. Johns wort. Try to leave the area in good condition so plants can thrive in the future. Rain or shine the camas harvest is well attended. This is Eating Camas: Bulbs can be an annual event where over 40 native people gather on the boiled, baked or slow roasted. Chehalis Reservation to harvest this traditional food. When the bulbs are cooked for a shorter time, they are fairly tasteless. Rinse remaining dirt from the bulbs. CAUTION!!! Trudy Marcellay (R) shows When they are slow roasted for 24- Helen Sanders (L) a hand 48 hours they become dark-colored Steaming the Bulbs (recipe from Be very sure of your identifcation made traditional tool used for and sweet. Roasted camas was Abe Lloyd at arcadianabe.blogspot. before eating Camas. The bulbs of harvesting camas. traditionally used to sweeten other com) Death Camas are deadly poisonous foods. Cooked bulbs have been and look very similar to the edible purple fowers and thicker leaves. made into cakes and dried for later varieties (Camassia quamash and It blooms a couple of weeks later use. Fresh bulbs can also be dried. Place an expandable vegetable Camassia leichtlinii). Death Camas than common camas and only grows steamer inside a slow cooker and has white fowers, tighter fower on the west side of the Cascade Nutritional Benefts: Camas fll the slow cooker with water to clusters, and fowers that mature Mountains. Camas bulb is a prized contains a complex carbohydrate just below the level of the steamer. later in the Season (usually June). native food that resembles a small called inulin that provides our body Put the camas bulbs in the steamer If you have any Death Camas in dense potato. and cover the slow cooker. Set the with food energy. Inulin has been slow cooker at a moderate to high the plot you are harvesting from, I shown to have a balancing effect on temperature and steam the bulbs for recommend only eating bulbs that Harvesting: Camas is dug in May blood sugar. It is also a “prebiotic” are attached to a fowering stalk that or early June when the blue fowers that supports the growth of intestinal 36 hours (yes, you read that right). you can positively ID as a Camassia or dried fower petals are visible. bacteria. It helps us to absorb Check the water level every 2-4 species. This helps people to distinguish it minerals including calcium and hours and refll as necessary. The from a poisonous plant with similar magnesium. bulbs will begin to brown and smell looking leaves and bulbs called like molasses after 12-24 hours. death camas. Cleaning the bulbs: Cook until they are a very dark Pinch off the stem where it enters brown. Camas is dug with narrow straight the bulb and the small roots coming digging sticks that are made out of out of the base of the bulb. The A meal that takes two days to hard wood, bone, antler or metal. dirty outer skin will peel off pretty prepare will challenge the patience You can also use a hand trowel with easily and you will be left with a of even a Slow Foodist. For that a long narrow base. When you little white bulb that resembles an reason, an entire year’s worth of dig bulbs, keep the larger ones and onion with the outer skin removed. camas was traditionally cooked and dried so that it could quickly be rehydrated and eaten. Most of us won’t harvest the several bushels of camas bulbs that it would take to make a large pit-cook worthwhile. Knowledge of the type of bulb My slow cooker method is intended harvest is very important. The to provide a safe, energy effcient purple flowered camas (L) When the bulb is cooked for a long time (24-48 hours), inulin and relatively convenient alternative and the white flowered camas breaks down into fructans, which taste sweet but do not for smaller quantities of Camas (R) is known as the death increase blood sugar. bulbs. flower.    Page 3
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