Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eating Weeds

a box of weeds

I'm not a big salad eater. Actually, that's an understatement. I've only managed to eat one salad in my entire lifetime. But, ever since I took some wilderness survival classes back in January and February, I've been curious how some wild plants taste. While mowing my yard yesterday evening, I decided to try three of them that I had identified earlier.

wild garlic or onion

baked wild garlic or onion with french bread

First, I pulled up a good size clump of wild garlic or onion. Not 100% on either, but it had a strong odor somewhere in between the two and I've read you really need to make sure that smell is present or it could be something quite poisonous. I'm gonna lean more towards garlic, due to the round leaves.  So that's how I prepared it. I followed a basic recipe for baked garlic in butter and light Italian seasoning. I spread it on bread and it had something like a cross between a garlic and a potato taste to it. Maybe too much butter was used. I don't know. But it was OK.

dandelion and purple deadnettle

dandelion

cooked dandelion

As the garlic (or onion) was baking, I washed the greens. First the purple deadnettle, then the dandelion. I tried the dandelion raw and cooked like you might do spinach. Boiled till soft. It was better raw, in my opinion. I also tried it with balsamic vinegar.

purple deadnettle

The purple deadnettle gets it's sinister sounding name from not having a sting like stinging nettle does. Being a member of the mint family, it has a slight mint smell to it and it's square stems won't have you cussing like it's very distant cousin will. Which, stinging nettle is also edible. But it has to be cooked to kill the sting. I hope to make nettle beer with it later this spring, given the time.

purple deadnettle

cooked purple deadnettle

The deadnettle I cooked like the dandelion. It was pretty tasteless. About how I imagine eating cooked grass might be, from the smell. Both the deadnettle and dandelion might be OK in a soup or stew with other things. If you were in the woods and killed some sort of small critter and added it to your pot, you might throw these in for added nutrients and filler.

Photo Mar 28, 7 05 25 AM_s

Also, it's smart to do some research before you eat something you're unsure of. I looked at quite a few pics online before trying these. It took a couple weeks of buildup before I felt comfortable with the idea. That could be because they weren't of a carnivorous nature or it could be the wild part, not exactly sure. It took about as long to build up to eating a plate of spinach a while back and that was store bought. it also helps to pick yourself up a good field guide for your area. One with photos, not just line art and descriptions.

The verdict on eating these weeds: yes, they're edible, no, I won't be eating them often. But, at least I know I can if I'm ever stuck somewhere in the woods for any great length of time.

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