As gardeners we often see weeds as pests and think up new ways to destroy them. But there are more to weeds than what meets the eye. Did you know that many weeds are edible and even nutritious? Here are a few weeds you can snack on instead of eradicate:
- Dollar weed – This circular weed has a tendency to take over yards. However since you can eat them perhaps you will find them not so objectionable anymore. The small round leaves of this weed can be eaten raw and have a taste similar to cucumber. Try to pick leaves smaller than a quarter for the best flavor. Dollar weed also grows in standing water so be sure to wash well before eating. If you desire you can also make a kimchee or sauerkraut like dish from the leaves. Only the leaves are edible. The stems are stringy and hard.
- Dandelion – This is another common weed that is edible. With its distinctive yellow flowers and fluffy seed heads this is one weed you can’t overlook. This is also a nutrition packed plant. High in many vitamins, minerals and even protein, you could survive for a while on this plant alone. However the flavor leaves something to be desired. With a bitter taste this plant is best eaten cooked. The yellow flower can be eaten raw of the green parts are removed. It makes a colorful addition to salads. Young leaves can be mixed with other greens for a flavor burst. Wilting the leaves is also a great way to make the plant palatable. Combine with hot bacon drippings, green onion, a little sugar, and apple cider vinegar for a tasty side dish. Or you can use a strong oil and vinegar dressing or a salty accompaniment like soy sauce to disguise the bitter flavor. The roots of the dandelion can also be roasted and ground for a coffee substitute or boiled for twenty to thirty minutes before eating.
- Spiderwort/Day Flower – With beautiful blue flowers and long, slim leaves this distinctive plant is easy to spot growing in the shade. You can eat the stems of this plant and they have a texture similar to okra, and just as slimy. The sap from the plant can be used to relive minor burns and the stems can be added to thicken stews. The leaves are also edible raw. Nutritious and hardy a frost will kill this plant but it will grow back within a couple of months.
- Chickweed – Another weed, this one loves to grow in sidewalk cracks, along foundations and anywhere the soil has been disturbed. It has tiny white flowers and likes to grow in clusters. Full of vitamin C, iron and other minerals, this plant is best cooked in stews and soups and acts as a thickener. It tastes good chopped fine and cooked in pasta sauce or as an addition to pesto and salsa. Do not eat too much of it as excessive consumption can cause stomach upset.
- Purslane/Sedum/Stone Crop – Another weed that loves sidewalk cracks, this juicy looking plant has many uses. This pant loves heat and can often be found growing during the hottest parts of the year when everything else is turning brown. The leaves and stems are edible raw or cooked. Full of vitamins A,C, and all the Bs, minerals, and omega-3fatty acid, this plant is a great addition to your diet. You can also steam it or fry it and the largest stems can be pickled like cucumber.
- Sow Thistle – This weed is another variety that pops up where you least expect it. It can grow to waist high and has many edible parts. The young leaves are edible raw, steamed or boiled. The stem can be peeled and then cooked like asparagus. Very rich in vitamins and minerals the whole plant can be picked before flowers appear and steamed. The buds of the yellow flowers also make a great caper substitute. Just pluck them before they open and pickle them for six weeks. The roots of this plant are very bitter but can be roasted for a coffee substitute.
About the Author:
Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.