How about serving a savory weed dish for dinner? They probably grow in your own garden.
Many of us grow vegetables in our gardens, but even if you don’t, you might have a whole section of produce growing in your garden that you don’t even know anything about. That’s because many of the plants we think of as weeds are actually edible wild vegetables.
Most of us spend a lot of time and money trying to get rid of weeds growing in our lawns and gardens. And while many of them can be annoying and invasive, some of them are actually edible, not only for survival, but also as delicious and nutritious greens for our dinner table. Here are five common edible weeds that you’ve probably grown in your own backyard.
Broadleaf plantain is a perennial plant that grows from spring to fall. The whole plant is edible, especially the young leaves, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Many people blanch the leaves in boiling water to make them more tender, then use them in salads and soups. The dried leaves make a healthy herbal tea. Plantain is rich in vitamin B1 and riboflavin.
Another common garden weed in the common mallow. It is in the same family as okra, and all parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be added to a salad, as well as the flowers. When cooked, the leaves secrete a thick, okra-like liquid that can be used to thicken soups and stews, and even whipped into a meringue-like substitute for egg whites. The flavor of the leaves is quite mild. dried mallow leaves can be used for tea.
You can easily find purslane growing along the edge of the garden or flower bed, and even along the sidewalk or driveway. Purslane leaves are plump and succulent and the plant can be eaten as a cooked vegetable, or in soups and stews, or raw in salads. The leaves are rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as many vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. All parts of the plant are edible, including the stems and flower buds.
Oxalis, or wood sorrel, grows in lawns and flower beds and looks like clover or clovers. Sometimes the leaves take on a bronze tint. Oxalis literally means “sour” because it contains oxalic acid, which gives it a slightly sour taste similar to lemons. In fact, while the leaves are edible raw, they can be chopped in water with sugar to make a lemonade-like drink. The plant is rich in vitamin C. It is an incredible thirst quencher and refreshing to eat, and the dried leaves can be sprinkled on foods as a seasoning.
Finally, dandelions grow in almost any lawn and garden, and they are more nutritious than most of the fruits and vegetables we buy at the grocery store. the whole plant is edible, including leaves, roots and flowers. The leaves can be added to a salad or cooked. The flowers can be made into juice and the root can be roasted and made into a coffee substitute. Young leaves, or those picked from shady areas, are less likely to taste bitter. Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as many essential minerals, especially potassium. And there’s as much calcium in a handful of dandelion greens as there is in half a cup of milk.
If you decide to harvest edible weeds to eat, make sure you know what you’re picking. Many wild plants are inedible and some can even be poisonous. So make sure you know what it is before you eat it. And, like many fruits and vegetables, not all parts of an edible herb are safe to eat. But it just goes to show that what we think of as a weed can actually be a tasty and nutritious thing to eat. And you can grow it whether you like it or not.
Before you start eating weeds from your garden, be sure to only pick areas that have not been treated with pesticides or herbicides. And carefully wash any plants you eat raw.
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