03.05.08–Foods and Recipes–Reindeer Moss Survival Stew

reindeer_moss_drawing_1 iceland_moss_drawing

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.

Food Use

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.



One response to “03.05.08–Foods and Recipes–Reindeer Moss Survival Stew

  1. Reblogged this on Alaskan Foodie and commented:
    Some really great information here for those that are needing to survive in the tundra areas. What a great job gathering the information and putting instructions on how to use/cook it! 🙂

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