Jungle Survival - Food - Palm Cabbage (with Only a Pocket Knife)




Introduction: Jungle Survival - Food - Palm Cabbage (with Only a Pocket Knife)

About: Jungles my home _ College now my life _ Mechanical Engineer to be _ An adventurer at heart

Greetings: If you have ever had to rely on just your pocket knife and the forest or jungle to supply your food, you will know it isn't as easy as it may seem. The majority of us are rather ignorant when it comes to finding food in the world outside of our super markets. I would say that even more of the majority doesn't know a thing about finding food in the jungle. Well, I am th3_ jungle_inv3ntor and, as the name may suggest, I am around the jungle - or rather the jungle is around me. I don't dare claim to know near what the people of these lands know about their jungle, but I do know a little.

Palm Cabbage: Google Amazon rainforest and view images, in almost every picture of the rain forest, especially if there is water around, a palm tree can be spotted. If you know how to do it, palm trees equal food! Palm cabbage, also known as palm "heart", is simply the heart of a palm tree. It can be eaten either raw or cooked and is quite popular to many people. Palm hearts can be found canned in stores all over the world. It is completely edible and safe. Wikipedia article on palm heart is here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_heart -. To my knowledge, the palm heart can be harvested and eaten out of any kind of palm tree. Coconut palms are often the palms used when the hearts are canned.In this instructables, I am going to deal with jucara palms or euterpe edulis palms - correct me if I am wrong. To locate and identify the palm trees to be eaten, jump to step two!

The Scenario: Imagine for a moment you are lost in the Amazon jungle. All that you have is your trusty little pocket knife. It's good for stripping wires and cutting fruit, but you have never had to rely on it for survival. The problem is that your body is tiring from lack of food. The jungle has taken its toll on you, and you are hungry. So, what do you do? In movies they simply make a bow and arrow and go hunting, or they find some conveniently placed berries to eat. Unfortunately, it isn't near that easy. First of all, a bow requires great skill, knowledge, and time to make. If you have ever tried to kill an animal with a bow, much less a homemade one, you will know that it is no small task. It is hard enough to even find an animal much less get in bow range. It requires great skill, time, experience, and again knowledge. The reality is, it isn't near as easy to survive off of your surroundings as you may think it is, and if my guess is right, most people don't know much at all about survival in one of the most extreme places - the rain forest. But the truth is, there is food all around you, you just need to know how to find it. So, read on to learn about the perfect jungle survival food!

Warning: This instructables involves knives, machetes, climbing trees, and the jungle. All of which can potentially be dangerous. Please exercise caution. I am not responsible in any way. Don't go get lost in the jungle feeling like you know how to survive now. :)

P.S. - Special thanks to my Dad for taking most of the pictures. :)

Step 1: Knife

You will need the knife. Whether it is your $100 hunting knife or my $5 dollar folding knife, whatever is your favorite knife or the one that you carry with you where ever you go, you will need it. You do carry a knife, right? That is the single most important thing a human being can carry in their pocket. I have several, but the one I carry everywhere with me is a simple $5 Wall-mart knife. Hey, it works great! It is strong and practical, and I don't worry about breaking it or loosing it like I do with my nicer knives. It's been in two continents. It has been with me wading through jungle creeks, in wedding dress pants, cutting up fish, stripping wires, and just about everything you can imagine! Anyway.....

You will need:

A knife.

And of course, the jungle!

Step 2: Finding the Palm Cabbage Trees

Take a look at the first few pictures. Spot anything? I saw food.

Palm trees! Any of them, whether coconut, cookrit, awara, - don't know their real names - all types of palm trees yield edible "hearts". So look for palms. Although all palm trees yield cabbage in much the same way, some can be a lot harder to harvest. Definitely not pocket knife destructable. The palm tree I am focusing on is . They are found through out the Amazon rain forest. They are also rather easy to get the "hearts" from.

Hopefully you know what a palm tree basically looks like. If you don't do some reading....

If you are in an area where you can see over the rain forest, the best way to spot them is just to look for their frond leaves.

If you are in the thick of the jungle, look for their leaves along with their distinctive tall, straight trunks. Most of the time their long stringy roots are visible going into the ground.

Although palm trees are found all throughout the jungle, they are found especially around creeks or rivers. If you find water, you can be almost positive there are palms around.

Step 3: Getting the Tree Down

Now this is potentially the hardest part. It can be a matter of just three or four chops with a machete, but people don't generally walk with a machete in their pocket. *In the jungle a machete to me is the single most important thing to have.* Since you don't have a machete though you have to think of another method.

Method One:

Take about an hour and cut down a tree with your pocket knife. That isn't too practical to me!

Method Two:

Pick on one your own size. It works to simply find one that is small enough to pull over. The smaller you go the less food you will have in the end, but you will have food. This is by far the easiest thing to do. The palm trees I am showing are rather soft, and can be pulled down rather easily.

Method Three:

Go for the big ones with Newtons First Law helping you! Simply climb a skinny tree till your weight starts to make it fall. Just remember to be careful! This method is not for everyone! :)

Step 4: Dissecting the Tree

This can be the time consuming process, but it is where you put your knife into the action.

Basically, the edible "heart" of the tree is found in the top of the tree. From a little below where the young leaves start to form at the very top of the tree, to a little below where the oldest leaves are attached, the "heart" can be found.

Getting to it is simpler than you think, but still requires a little work.

First look for where the outer most leaves stem attaches to the trunk. The palm stalk attaches to the trunk by encircling it. By making a long cut through the side where the stalk does not extend, it is possible to pull it apart. Now pull the palm leaf's stem back, taking a layer of tree trunk with it. You may need to cut it off if it continues to get into the way.

Basically you just repeat this process, making a slice down the top part of the tree and pulling the trunk back. This is where it is nice to have a small tree as it makes the whole process a lot easier....

Look at the pictures closely, they are worth a thousand words.

Step 5: Getting to the "heart"

If you have been faithfully repeating step four, you should be close to food! Basically, look for a super soft white part in the very center of the trunk. It may take a little cutting and pulling to find exactly where it is. You don't want the sappy part. It should be nice dry stringy stuff. Continue to peal back layer after layer, until you get to the very center. Much of the white stuff can be eaten, but the best stuff is in the very center.

The food is almost ready!

Step 6: Time to Eat

Your hard work has paid off. You now have food to eat from just the jungle and your knife.

So all you do is eat it. You know, chew it up and swallow. :) Yes, you can eat it raw. It is rather tasteless in my opinion, but has a remote similarity to common cabbages.

It might not be your favorite, but hey, its food. And when it comes to survival, it's food that counts.

Although, it can be eaten raw, it can also be cooked. I have never cooked it so it's up to you to do that one!

And yes, I do eat it.

Step 7: Now You Know How to Do It!

Food from the jungle. Just a knife. Doesn't have to be cooked. Can be stored easily and carried with you easily. Is found all throughout the Amazon rain forest. It is the ultimate jungle survival food.

I hope I have explained this process well, and you have a good idea of how to do it for yourself. You never know when you may need it.

Let me note also that a machete would make this whole process a whole lot easier. If I am in the jungle, I usually always have a machete. It is the multi tool of the jungle.

I hope you have enjoyed this instructables. It takes a little more effort to do this kind of instructables, but I hope you enjoyed it.

Until I appear again,


Outdoor Survival Contest

Second Prize in the
Outdoor Survival Contest

Raw Food Contest

Participated in the
Raw Food Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Lighting Challenge

      Lighting Challenge
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge

    4 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work. I remember eating cabbage palm on a trip to Florida many years ago. After the palm was cut down our host extracted the heart like you did, but since it was a much larger tree there was more of it. Lots more! And the heart came apart in concentric bands as I recall. Then he cooked it with bacon and served it that way. Was tasty, but still chewy [tough]. But in an emergency it would be fine, even without the bacon. You write really well and the photos helped explain what you were talking about. Good I'ble!!

    Feel free to ask any questions that you may have. Also, remember to vote if you like my instructables!

    Note: I know the picture quality isn't the best, but neither is the lighting in the jungle. The jungle can be a hard place to get good pictures.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Got to plant these in our garden. Climate change & all that stuff, they'll do! Great I'ble, loved your backyard! ;)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment. I hope your trees grow. And I like my back yard too. :) There is really nothing behind it except miles of rain forest.