Agreeable summer drinks can be made by infusing the sour fruit of the mountain ash (Pyrus Americana), from sumac berries (dwarf and stag"-hcrn), and from the fruit of the red mulberry. The sweet sap of both hard and soft maples, box elder, and the birches (except red birch) is potable. Small beer can be made from the sap of black birch, from the pulp of honey locust pods, the fruit of the persimmon, shoots and root-bark of sassafras, and the twigs of black and red spruce. Cider has been made from the fruit of crab-apples and service-berries.
Vinegar can be made from maple or birch sap, or from fruit juices, by diluting with water and adding a little yeast. The very sour berries of sumac turn cider into vinegar, or they may be used alone.
Our fields and forests afford many pleasant condiments for flavoring. Sassafras, oil of birch, winter-green, peppermint and spearmint will occur to every one. Balm, sweet marjoram, summer savory and tansy are sometimes found in wild places, where they have escaped from cultivation. The rootstock of sweet cicely has a spicy taste, with a strong odor of anise, and is edible. Sweet gale gives a pleasant flavor to soups and dressings. The seeds of tansy mustard were used by the Indians in flavoring dishes. Wild garlic ("ramps"), wild onions, peppergrass, snowberry and spicewood may be used for similar purposes.
Perhaps the greatest privation that a civilized man Buffers, next to having no meat, is to lack salt and tobacco. In the old days they used to burn the outside of meat and sprinkle gun poweder on it in lieu of salt; but in this age of smokeless powder we are denied even that consolation. The ashes of plants rich in nitre, such as tobacco, Indian corn sunflower, and the ashes of hickory bark, have been recommended. Coville says that the ash of the palmate-leaf sweet coltsfoot (Petasites palmata) was highly esteemed by western Indians as a substitute for salt. "To obtain the ash the stem and leaves were first rolled up into balls while still green, and after being carefully dried they were placed on top of a very small fire on a rock, and burned." Perhaps a better plan is to make lye by pouring boiling water on wood ashes, strain, and evaporate to a white crystalline alkali. Use sparingly.
Many Indians, even civilized ones like some d the eastern Cherokees, do not use salt to this day. Strange to say, the best substitute for salt is sugar, especially maple sugar or sirup. One soon can accustom himself to eat it even on meat. Among some of the northern tribes, maple sirup not only takes the place of salt in cooking, but is used for seasoning the food after it is served. Wild honey, boiled, and the wax skimmed off, has frequently served me in place of sugar in my tea, in army bread, etc.
Men who use tobacco can go a good while hungry without much grumbling, so long as the weed holds out.
Thou who, when cares attack, Bidd'st them avaunt! and Black Care, at the horseman's back Perching, unseatest!
But let tobacco play out, and they are in a bad way! Substitutes for it may be divided into those that are a bit better than nothing and those that are worse. Among the latter may be rated tea. Yes, tea is smoked by many a poor fellow in the far North! It is said to cause a most painful irritation in the throat, which is aggravated by the cold air of that region. Certainly it can have no such effect on the nerves as tobacco, for it is full of tannin, and tannin destroys nicotin.
Kinnikinick is usually made of poor tobacco mixed with the scrapings or shavings of other plants, although the latter are sometimes smoked alone. Chief of the substitutes is the red osier dogwood (Comus stolonifera") or the related silky cornel (C. sericea) commonly miscalled red willow. These shrubs are very abundant in some parts of the North. The dried inner bark is aromatic and very pungent, highly narcotic, and produces in those unused to it a heaviness sometimes approaching stupefaction. Young shoots are chosen, or such of the older branches as still keep the thin, red outer skin. This skin is shaved off with a keen knife, and thrown away. Then the soft, brittle, green inner bark is scraped off with the back of the knife and put aside for use; or, if wanted immediately, it is left hanging to the stem in little frills and is crisped before the fire. It is then rubbed between the hands into a form resembling leaf tobacco, or is cut very fine with a. knife and mixed with tobacco in the proportion of two of bark to one of the latter.
A more highly prized kinnikinick is made from the leaves of the bear-berry or uva-ursi (Arctosiaphy-los-uva-ursi), called sacaoommis by the Canadian traders, who sell it to the northern Indians for more than the price of the best tobacco. The leaves are gathered in the summer months, being then milder than in winter. Inferior substitutes are the crumbled dried leaves of the smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and the fragrant sumac (R. aromatica), which, like tea, contain so much tannin that they generally produce bronchial irritation or sore throat.