Reindeer Moss Survival Stew
fresh, cleaned fish, rabbit or duck
reindeer moss, leached in stream overnight
available edible wild greens
Combine cleaned fish or meat and lichens, and simmer in water until fish is tender. Remove bones. Add vegetables. Cook 10 to 15 minutes more. Adjust amount according to available materials and number of servings desired.
Reindeer and Iceland Moss: Foods for Survival
Unless you’re a caribou, Cladina and Cetraria probably won’t be your favorite wild edibles. They are, however, good to be acquainted with as nourishment during emergency situations. Despite their common names, reindeer and Iceland moss are lichens rather than mosses. A lichen is not one, but two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus, that live together as a single unit.
In caribou country, the abundant reindeer moss provides food for the herds. For humans stranded in an inhospitable tundra, the hardy lichens can well provide sustenance and survival.
Lichens are not a pop-in-you-mouth or toss-in-a-salad edible. They must be leached in a clean stream overnight, or boiled in several changes of water, preferably with baking soda added each time, to remove the acids that can cause intestinal irritation. Lichens, after leaching or parboiling, can be added to soups and stews as a thickener, boiled with fruits into a jelly, dried as a flour extender or substitute, simmered as a vegetable with wild game or fish, or cooked into a pudding or custard. In Iceland and Scandinavia, lichens are commercially harvested for a lichen powder that forms the basis of soups and desserts.
Kobuk River Eskimos use reindeer lichen as survival food for both humans and dogs. Some Eskimos eat the partially digested lichen contents of the stomach of slain caribou. Inland Dena’ina Athabascans boil or soak Cladina until soften and then eat it plain or with berries, fish eggs, or oil.
Reindeer moss lacks a strong flavor; the leached, dried product has the taste of crustless white bread. In Survival Stew, the flavors of whatever meat and vegetables you’ve selected will be dominant.
Cited From: Discovering Wild Plants–Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest. Written by Janice J. Schofield. Illustrated by Richard W. Tyler. Published by Alaska Northwest Books, 1989.