The Fresh Loaf

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Lungwort Leavening

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Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Lungwort Leavening

Looking through an old campcraft book I came across the following entry:


LUNGWORT BREAD
from the book Camp Cookery by Horace Kephart, published 1910


On the bark of maples, and sometimes of beeches and birches, in the northern woods, there grows a green, broad-leaved lichen variously known as lungwort, liverwort, lung-lichen, and lung-moss, which is an excellent substitute for yeast. This is an altogether different growth from the plants commonly called lungwort and liverwort---I believe its scientific name is Sticta pulmonacea. This lichen as partly made up of fungus, which does the business of raising dough. Gather a little of it and steep it over night in lukewarm water, set near the embers, but not near enough to get overheated. In the morning, pour off the infusion and mix it with enough flour to make a batter, beating it up with a spoon. Place this “sponge” in a warm can or pail, cover with a cloth, and set it near the fire to work. By evening it will have risen. Leaven your dough with this (saving some of the sponge for a future baking), Let the bread rise before the fire that night, and by morning it will be ready to bake.


It takes but little of the original sponge to leaven a large mass of dough (but see that it never freezes), and it can be kept good for months.


+Wild-Yeast

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The following was found on Google Books:


Mosses and lichens: a popular guide to the identification and study of our commoner mosses and lichens, their uses, and methods of preserving

By Nina Lovering Marshall
Published by Doubleday, Page, 1907
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Feb 8, 2008
327 pages


On page 20-21 the following passage:
LICHENS AS FOOD

" Iceland moss" (Cetraria Islandica, Colour Plate VII) is even now used as an article of food, as it contains a high per cent, of lichen-starch.

The Spotted Lungwort (Sticta pulmonaria, Colour Plate VII) was considered a sure cure for lung trouble and was used in a Siberian monastery for a beer which was noted for its peculiar bitterness.

The manna of the Israelites is supposed to have been a species of Lecanora (Lecanora esculenta). This lichen is plentiful in Algeria and Tartary, as well as in mountainous districts of other countries. It is its habit to grow and spread rapidly and, as it is loosely attached, it is often carried by the wind down the sides of mountains into the valley, where it is spoken of as " Rains of manna." Kirghiz Tartars eat it as "earth bread."

It first forms thick-wrinkled and waited grayish-yellow crusts on the stones. Within, they are as white as parched corn.

As the plant grows older the crust is rent and loosened from the substratum, while the edges curl over until the loosened piece forms an elliptical warted body about the size of a hazel-nut. The Manna Lichen is sometimes brought down in such quantities by the rain that it accumulates to a depth of several inches, and in the Steppe region, and in the high lands of southwest Asia is used as a substitute for corn.

+Wild-Yeast

P.S. Wikipedia entry is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticta_pulmonaria
LindyD's picture
LindyD

Very interesting reading. Some lichens are used to monitor air pollution - they absorb and retain the contents of rainwater.  


While there's lots of lichen growing on the trees around here, which is good from an air quality standpoint, I think I'll leave them on the tree bark.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

give it a try!  I would so like to know!  (Remember Thimbleberries not only grow in the UP but in Russia too!  I bet there are lots of similarities.... which makes me wonder about migrating birds.)   Just think, a new tourist take home item:  Northwoods Yeast!   "Picked fresh off the trees!"


Please please please!


Mini

LindyD's picture
LindyD

ROFL about your creative marketing!

I can see orange and green lichens from my kitchen window, Mini.  There's probably brown ones out there too.  Any particular color you'd like?  Do you think an orange lichen would produce an orange SD culture?

I did check the Michigan State University Herbarium lichen list and found that  "pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm. Syn.: Sticta pulmonaria" is a known species here.  Of course, I'll have to find it first.  But not today, since it's starting to snow again.  Morel season is coming up, so that will be a fun way to spend some time: searching for fungus and lichens.

Ah, thimbleberry jam!  Very tasty stuff.  But quite expensive.


 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Green please!    "On the bark of maples, and sometimes of beeches and birches, in the northern woods, there grows a green, broad-leaved lichen."   


I do remember lots of yellow, grey and orange ones too up on the Mass bluff.  I will go check my Northwoods indian herb book and see what I can find.  When I was hugging trees on showshoes, I never bothered to look at the lichens.  I am willing to bet they grow on the south side as moss grows on the north side.  Or do they like the north sides of trees too?


I can tell you where I found thimbleberries near Mass.  I know of several big patches.  I found some in Pennsylvania too, along the railroad tracks north of Kittanning. 


Mini

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I'm always amazed by your travels and encyclopedic knowledge, MiniO.  


Green it will be....presuming I can find the right stuff.


Caveat:  I'm maintaining three cultures now, with organic flours, so this lichen experiment is going to get fed the cheap stuff.  

summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Very interesting about the lichen leavening!  If anyone tries it, be sure to post the results.  I have also never heard of a thimbleberry.  Down here in FL we have chanterelles and a couple of other edible varieties of wild mushrooms that I gather in the mid to late summer, but to have morels!  I've only tried them twice at fancy restaurants and they were in tiny pieces, but still delicious.  I can't imagine what they would be like fresh.


Summer

LindyD's picture
LindyD

They grow in odd places here, Summer.  Like my garden.  Morel bread?


summerbaker's picture
summerbaker

Lindy - Last night I used some croissants left over from my weekend bake with sauteed mushrooms,  swiss cheese, and bechamel sauce.  I'll bet they would have been stellar with morels!  If you haven't tried this, you just cut day old croissants in half, spread bechemel on both halves, spoon in sauteed mushrooms, grate cheese over them, sandwich the halves back together, spread more bechemel on top and grate more cheese over them.  Then bake for 8-10 min at 375.  I got this recipe from Bertinet's Crust, which I have been working my way through.


BTW - That is a beautiful specimin in your picture.  You are lucky!


Summer

sharonk's picture
sharonk

This is so exciting to me! There is liverwort lichen in the town forest near my home. They grow on big boulders and are sometimes 4 inches in diameter with floppy "leaves". I will most definitely try this sometime. Thanks!

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Warning!


Please be careful!  This information is at best apochraphyl and should be verified before ingesting any entity so gained from lichen sources.  I wouldn't want anyone to be sickened by any interpretation of these old writings which appear to be of a second source nature. So please, above all, use extreme caution in experimenting with any foreign unproved source ingredient. 


But if you live through it please report the positive part. . . ,


+Wild-Yeast

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You mean we're supposed to TASTE the stuff? 


MiniO might do something like that, but she's braver than I am.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

As long as I have loved ones to take care of, I won't be eating it.  So use the cheap flour and tell us how it smells and aromas and such.  I think if it becomes a starter in such a short period, then it is worth feeding a wee loaf to mice (scientists are always telling us how similar we are)  but not any house pets, don't want to get anyone too upset or turn a mere mouse into a Mighty one.  It does look like it has potential.  But it needs thorough investigation before ingesting.


If any lichen people are watching.  I have some interesting photos of roof lichen, growing on a slate roof.  The roof has been in place for about 70 years and the lichens grow into rings.  They start out as spots, grow into 1/4 circles and on to 1/2 and then whole.  This building is slated for demolition soon.  Should I save a smily face for posterity?


Austrian Roof Lichen - Linz

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Mini,


At first glance the pattern looks like it was made by high speed ingenious pigeons.  The circular growth pattern is interesting.  Somewhat like a "fairy ring".


+Wild-Yeast

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Yes, I agree, this is the best place for lichen, moss, cobwebs and, feathers and such soft things..this is in my lemon tree!


Enchanting!  A little Hummingbird's deserted nest...I think it left the nest because we had a cold spell.


Sylvia

merkri's picture
merkri

Reminds me of home...


Another resource:


http://www.amazon.com/Lichens-North-Woods-Naturalist/dp/0979200601


Reading a bit into it, I could see how this might work, but I could see how it might not. Then again, I've basically read that you can create a starter from just about anything from the remote wilderness that you put into a pot of warm flour and water.