This article originally appeared in Issue 6Â of our...
As we've studied foraging over the years, we've come to the realization that nature provides a few “Swiss Army Knife” resources that seem capable of assisting with just about any problem. The yucca plant is one such resource. We've previously covered how it can be used to make improvised cordage, soap, fire tinder, and even a chemical compound that stuns fish. And of course it also offers several edible parts. But the more we study this strange-looking plant, the more it seems to provide. Our latest discovery was thanks to a video from Texan survival instructor Bob Hansler.
In the video below, Bob shows how ripe yucca stalks can be harvested, peeled, and chewed to extract the sugary liquid within. He actually refers to it as “desert sugarcane” because he says it's equally tasty. Given the prevalence of yucca plants throughout the American southwest, especially in hot and dry areas where other sources of water are scarce, this is a great tip to remember.
Interestingly, Bob says the stalks can be charred over a fire and left to ferment, producing a primitive alcohol. The yucca is a relative to the agave plant, which we all know is the source of tequila, so it's not too surprising that it can be used to make some DIY booze.
The seed pods attached to the stems are also edible once ripe, as are the blossoms — but the blossoms, stem, and pods will all ripen at different points in the season. If the stalk appears dried-out and bare, it's too late to used it as a food source, but that dry material makes excellent tinder. Further evidence that the yucca always has something to offer in a survival situation.