Cooking With Wild Plants

When the weather gets warm I get excited about picking wild greens and wild berries. I love free food.

All of my life I have eaten wild plants. My father would bring in dandelion greens and boil them up for us (sometimes it was out of necessity as there simply was no food in the cupboards).

Benefits of Eating Wild Plants:

  • Full of more nutrition than the same plant grown domesticated.
  • Are fresher than store bought as vegetables and fruits are shipped long distances to market, sit on shelves, losing flavor and nutrition.
  • They are organic as no fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are used in the wild (if there is, don’t pick them there; I won’t pick them in the parks in my city as I know they spray for mosquitoes).
  • There is no need to add salt, sugar or artificial flavoring or sweeteners.
  • Not grown in depleted soil as nature replenishes itself.
  • By using these plants that are easily available, you save the earth the energy, water and transportation it costs to create grocery store foods.  It is one step you can do to BE GREEN.
  • Best of all they are free!

……and they are gourmet foods.

A few of my favorites are nettles, dandelions, chickweed, fiddleheads & lamb’s quarters. Some of these foods fall into the category of weeds but I am so busy gathering and cooking, I don’t try to categorize them.

Nettles:
Now you might wonder how to pick these since they are called stinging nettles and they do sting.  They are a great spring tonic.  Every year in spring, I would make nettle soup when I lived in England. I will post that recipe later. You can even put them in your smoothies.

Nettle leaves contain: flavonoids, acetylcholine; lecithin; carotenoids, vitamin C, and many minerals.

Dandelion Greens:
They are one of the most useful of food herbs. More importantly, they are there for the picking. I dig them up with the roots intact and keep the roots in water in a bowl until I am ready to eat them, thus keeping them as live food. I usually simply steam them along with my other vegetables.  The most common thing to do is boil dandelion greens until tender (changing the water once will take away some of the bitter taste if they are not young greens), then garnish with olive oil, butter or lemon juice.

The leaves are very high in potassium, vitamin A, B, C and D – the A content being higher than that of carrots. They also have iron, fiber, protein and a little carbohydrate. Read more: Dandelion Madness

fiddleheads by seanmcgrath of flickr

Fiddleheads:
The fiddlehead, is a delicacy that appears in the early spring (April and May) in places like the coasts of Canada and the US and all over England. We do not see them much here in Edmonton. Simply eat them the way you would asparagus in salads, steamed or in soups.

Fiddleheads contain protein, vitamin A, vitamin C and minerals including iron.

Chickweed:
Grows almost everywhere! It is very easy to pull up as it grows in clumps of bright green with tiny white flowers. I simply add them to my salads and occasionally to soups, steamed vegetables and stews.

Chickweed contains beta-carotene, B vitamins, vitamin C, bio-flavonoids, GLA/gamma-linoleic acid and lots of minerals.

Lamb’s quarters (also known as pigweed):
They are very profuse in all gardens. The young leaves are great in salads as they taste like spinach. When they are more mature, the leaves are better steamed, in soups or in smoothies.

Lamb’s quarters have a number of vitamin B’s, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, and minerals including iron.

Which wild plant foods are your favorite?

Recipes with Wild Plants:

Saskatoon Crumble made with my favorite wild berry from northern Canada; Saskatoons.

Diana’s Green Smoothie With a Difference:  This video shows the best way to make a green smoothie. You can easily add dandelion greens and lamb’s quarters.

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46 comments

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz4 years ago

~I wasn't aware of all the plants that could be eaten~I'm not quit sure if 'd like to!~

Sheri P.
Sheri P.4 years ago

I would love to try these weeds but don't know how to identify them...pictures would have been nice!

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

I'd love to try some of these but not sure I'd recognize them. I need pictures.

Robert Taylor
Robbie Taylor4 years ago

Great, thanks

Alice G.
Alice G.4 years ago

Great article! I love to add wild greens to my smoothies, and I often eat wild fruit such as blackberries; they grow everywhere in Australia.

If anyone is interested, there is a recently created group on Facebook called Wild Green Smoothies. The group is a place for people to share knowledge about wild plants, including wild greens, wild fruit and other wild edibles. It’s also a place to share healthy raw recipes using wild ingredients, especially (but not limited to) green smoothie recipes.

Whether or not you consume green smoothies, the Wild Green Smoothies group is a great place to share knowledge and healthy raw recipes as well as to connect with like-minded people.

Link: http://www.facebook.com/groups/228529537184607/

Alice G.
Alice G.4 years ago

l

Addys D.
a D.4 years ago

thank you for the article

Rachel R.
Rachel R.4 years ago

Excellent, with comments from Rosemary Western! Eating wild is great as long as we are careful to do it sustainably!

Chrissy Mead
Chrissy Mead4 years ago

You forgot Purslane. It grows rapidly and can be considered a weed, and yet I've seen them very often at farmer's markets. Here's more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea

Hilary A.
Hilary S.4 years ago

must look them up and go hunting..