Foraging for Edible Weeds

Updated: Jul 9


Foraging for Edible Weeds

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One way to practice simple living is to learn to forage for edible weeds. Please take care to learn from an expert before you eat plants that you have never even heard of before.


Weeds are nature's pantry and are abundant, yet many are ignored and never even given a second thought. Weeds are known for their resilience, so I wonder if that 'energy' can is transferred to us to become more resilient? That's just me thinking out loud. Weeds can be tasty and surprisingly nourishing.




Plants that spring up without being planted or seeded are weeds, and most of these plants spread rapidly. Yet, they can also provide a forager free food, and it's worth exploring the art of foraging.


are weeds edible

Foraging in your own garden is the safest bet if you don't spray with pesticides (and hopefully, if you are reading this blog, you practise organic gardening). Weeds outside your own terrain could be sprayed so investigate carefully before foraging away from home. Also, be careful that the weeds are not growing around polluted water.


Before you become a forager, it is essential that you correctly identify plants. It would help if you also educated yourself on what part of the plant is edible. Also, consider wearing appropriate clothing to avoid stings and cuts.

There are plenty of books available on foraging, so do some research or even take a course.

POPULAR EDIBLE WEEDS

Dandelions

These easy-to-spot annoyances to lawn-lovers are high in vitamins and minerals. Dandelions are one of the first spring greens, and their sensitive young leaves and their, blossoms and roots can be used in salads or cooking. Dandelions are known to be effective detoxifiers. The lengthy taproot that makes them so difficult to remove from your lawn aids in absorbing nutrients such as iron and calcium. B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and zinc are abundant in dandelions.


dandelion foraging

Pick young leaves before the blossoms appear to avoid the bitter flavour generally associated with dandelions. Cooking, as well as a fall frost, will assist in reducing bitterness. In salads and on pizza, dandelion greens work well as a substitute for rocket. The flower's yellow section can be eaten fresh or cooked and even put into fritters or baked items.


foraging for chickweed

Chickweed

Chickweed is an annual weed that can germinate at any time and grows up to 250 mm tall in the temperate zone. Its small, white, star-shaped flowers bloom throughout the year but are most noticeable from winter through spring. It includes vitamins A, D, C, and some B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, and other trace elements and can be mixed in salads and cooked foods. Long before your basil is mature, chickweed can be used to make a healthful pesto.


edible violets

Violets

Violet leaves and flowers give colour and flavour to salads, and the blossoms can be candied and used in a variety of dessert recipes found online. Violets look lovely on top of cakes or ice cream, or you can freeze them into an ice bowl for a stunning serving piece. When brewed into a tea, Violets are said to calm nerves and relieve coughs.




Violets are also a lovely groundcover for shady areas of your yard or garden. Violets have taken over most of my shady front yard, forcing away other unpleasant weeds and keeping us in greens and blossoms.


sourdough bread with foraged nettle

Nettles

Nettles are one of the most prevalent weeds among foragers. They're a pleasant and healthy early-season green used in soups or stews, and the tea brewed from the leaves is used to treat respiratory illnesses and allergies. Nettles have recently become a popular culinary component, and they can be found in pestos, frittatas, and other meals that typically include spinach or other greens.


Nettles are one of the first 'weeds' to sprout in the early spring, making them particularly welcome as the first fresh greens after a long winter. However, if you don't wear gloves or pick carefully, you'll get a slight sting from the spiky leaves—Harvest Nettles from the top of the plant. The stinging quality of nettles is lost when they are boiled or brewed into tea.

 

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Sources:

Permaculture News


ABC Gardening Show


Dr Axe