Monday, May 16, 2011

Wild Edibles

What do dandelions, burdocks (those bur plants your dog always seems to find), stinging nettle, and purslane (portulaca weed) all have in common?

If you're bristling just at the thought of them, you know them all as invasive, bothersome weeds that must be destroyed at first sight.

However, what would you say if I told you they are also all delicious and incredibly high in nutrients (not to mention their medicinal value)?

Burdock in soy/vinegar broth

Jerusalem Artichoke and Stinging Nettle Soup


Dandelion Flower Fritters
Makes you stop in your tracks and think, doesn't it.

I used to give training workshops where I would talk about the power of perception and how we all look at things through our own lenses.  There is always more to a scene than meets the eye of the beholder.  It seems this is also true in the garden.

This weekend I had a chance to try on a new set of lenses and gain a new perspective on common plants I always thought I knew.  Thanks to Laura Reeves, who put on a great one-day, hands-on course on wild edibles, I have a new perspective on some common plants.

Plant
Old Perspective
New Perspective
Dandelions
take over lawns
Flowers, buds, leaves and roots all edible, dried root can be used as a cocoa substitute
Burdock
invasive destroyers of natural habitat
roots are delicious in soy/vinegar sauce & high medicinal properties
Stinging Nettle
burns the skin
makes amazing soup and tea
Purslane
an octopus like garden weed
great in salads

Before you think I've gone off the deep end, don't worry, I'm not going to be planting dandelions or burdock in my garden (is that a sigh of relief I just heard from my garden plot neighbours?!).   I will however, look at them differently.  When I pull out the purslane from my garden, I'll save it and put it in my salad.  I may even pluck a few dandelion flowers and make some dandelion fritters for my kids.  Or perhaps I may dig up a few burdock roots in the spring for an Asian inspired feast.  And then, I'll sit back and relax with a nice cup of stinging nettle tea.

1 comment:

WolfSong said...

When we bought our house, I was a fair bit excited to see the dandys in the yard. I love the young greens in salad, and, when the greens get a little older, they can be sauteed in a bit of garlic butter,and sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. Very tasty!

This year I want to make dandelion jelly...I had a family member who made wine with the flowers, but, since I'm not an alcohol drinker, it's kinda a waste of time for me...jelly, however. Mmmmm, love a good jelly on toast!