Gratitude, Harvest & Jojoba

img_9711It’s that time of year when the northern hemisphere begins to slow down, contract, and rest. An ideal time to reflect and take in all that has happened throughout the year. The celebration of death during Halloween swallowed up all that no longer serves us, transforming that energy into the seeds of something new for the coming cycle. Taking a bit of time to pause and be grateful for everything that has come our way or moved on, leaving us in this moment with just what we need. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’m here in Arizona, just north of Phoenix, visiting my parents, enjoying the dryness and subtle energies of the desert. With access to a decent amount of land here, I’ve been exploring what is available and ready to be harvested. I have found an abundance of jojoba nuts, even though they are slightly past their season.

img_9850Jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis, is a native perennial shrub found in the Sonoran desert throughout southern Arizona, southern California and northwestern Mexico, bearing nuts somewhat resembling little acorns. These nuts are a rich source of a prized oil that is commonly used in cosmetics and have been used in native traditions for quite some time. Despite their decent size and abundance, from my research, they weren’t necessarily used as a food source by indigenous people, most likely because of their high content of tannins. However, I did learn about making them into a coffee-like beverage.

IMG_9935.JPGSo after gathering a few handfuls of what was left on the bushes that I encountered, I shelled them and roasted them for thirty minutes at about 300 degrees. After cooling, ground them into a somewhat coarse powder. The oils quickly made it into a thick meal that easily sticks together.

I combined about a teaspoon of the powdered jojoba to a cup of hot water and let it steep as I would a tea for about 10 minutes and then strained. The resulting beverage definitely had a coffee aroma and taste, however much lighter and quite delicious.


Thank you for reading, I appreciate your support and feedback. For a great resource on plants in the Southwest region, be sure to check out John Slattery’s book on Southwest Foraging.

Have a wonderful season of gratitude and abundance.



E. Barrie Kavasch. (2013). Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Foods and Recipes. Courier Corporation.

D.J. Undersander, E.A. Oelke, A.R. Kaminski, J.D. Doll, D.H. Putnam, S.M. Combs, and C.V. Hanson. (1990). Jojoba. Alternative Field Crops Manual. Retrieved from:  .

Slattery, J. (2016). Southwest Foraging: 117 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Barrel Cactus to Wild Oregano (Regional Foraging Series). Timber Press.

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About Jess

Jess Starwood

Jess Starwood is an established author, chef, herbalist and educator. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine and Holistic Nutrition. In 2021, she wrote and photographed her first book, Mushroom Wanderland: A Forager’s Guide to Finding, Identifying and Using More Than 25 Wild Fungi.

She also writes regularly for Edible Ojai & Ventura County, Edible San Fernando magazines and The Mycophile—the publication of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA).

Jess founded The Wild Path School where she teaches foraging, wild foods, herbalism and nature education classes for adults and children. She is a member of the Culinary Committee for NAMA and is on the board of directors for the Arizona Mushroom Society and the newsletter editor for the Los Angeles Mycological Society. She has also worked as a wild food consultant and forager for Michelin starred chefs Niki Nakayama and Aitor Zabala. Jess has been featured in National Geographic, The Guardian, and the Orange County Register.

Classes and workshops for adults and children are held regularly in the Greater Los Angeles area and west coast. Weekend and week-long wild food adventures are also occasionally available. Be sure to check out the event calendar or join the mailing list to be notified first of openings and availability.