Weeds to Forage (and Eat) From Your Garden
We live in a nation of extraordinary food abundance. Foraging wild foods requires knowledge, skill, and a lot of work (and time). Plus, it takes most people a while to acquire a taste for the often-stronger flavors of wild foods and to learn to prepare them creatively.
Many weeds are far more nutritious than the greens you'll find at your greengrocer.
The vegetables we eat today were all bred from wild foods. Early commercial cultivators selected varieties that were sweeter and less bitter. By doing so, they unintentionally selected against nutrients and in particular, phytonutrients – which are loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Fortunately, wild greens are still high in phytonutrients – and it's worth developing a taste for these free bitter greens.
Picking and eating weeds can be intimidating for beginner foragers – and rightly so. You need to make sure you don't mistakenly forage a poisonous lookalike.
Dandelion, Purslane and Scurvy Weed are three summer weeds that are easy to identify and hard to confuse with anything poisonous.
Young tender leaves of all three can be tossed in a salad or cooked in the same way you would spinach. Use them in frittatas or omelettes, in stirfries, pesto, simply steamed or sautéed, or add them to green smoothies.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is easily recognised by its toothed leaves radiating in a rosette lying close to the ground.
It's most likely to be confused with Flatweed (Hypochaeris radicata) which is also edible – although not as tasty.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is high in Omega 3 fatty acids and jam-packed with a suite of vitamins and minerals. It's also high in oxalate – so if you are pregnant or prone to kidney stones you should avoid eating it raw (unless, interestingly, you combine it with yoghurt which reduces oxalate content) and instead enjoy it cooked or pickled).
Purslane is especially delicious when used instead of cucumber in Tzatziki yoghurt dip. One plant you might confuse it with is Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus). You can easily distinguish Petty Spurge by its milky sap, seen when you break the stem. This milky sap is toxic so be careful not to confuse the two plants.
Scurvy Weed is not actually a weed but a native plant called Commelina cyanea. It was eaten by early non-indigenous colonists to alleviate scurvy, and hence its common is most likely to be confused with the weed Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminensis) which is not edible. Scurvy Weed can be easily distinguished by its gorgeous bright blue flowers – wandering Jew in contrast has white flowers.
Familiarise yourself with images and descriptions of these three plants by looking online or in plant identification or foraging field guides. Then head outside and simply wander.
You’ll be surprised that, once you know what you are looking for, a weed that you hadn't noticed previously will suddenly appear everywhere.
When foraging, you want to avoid places that may have been sprayed with herbicide or are likely to be polluted. Avoid busy road verges and areas surrounding old painted buildings because these areas are likely to be contaminated with lead and other heavy metals.
Good places to forage include your own garden, a friend’s garden or a local community garden.
For more information on going green and courses on permaculture head to Milkwood's website. You can also follow them on Instagram.
Read more at http://homes.ninemsn.com.au/2015/12/17/15/33/weeds-to-forage-from-your-garden#zIbHLQqTjD2MxRS3.99