Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Free Food!

If you have known me for a while, you know that I eat weeds. I love them – they are easy to find, nutritious, tasty, and they appeal to my cheapness. :-) When gathering edible wild plants, use the following precautions.

• Make sure that you have a positive identification before you eat any plant.
• Use plants that are at least 100 feet from a road, parking area, or train tracks. (The exhaust could be stuck on the plant.)
• Do not eat any plant that could have been sprayed with any type of pesticide.
• Always ask the permission of the land owner if you are collecting from another’s property.
• Verify the use of any plant if you are pregnant, lactating, on medication, of ill health, or serving it to a child, elderly person, or someone described above.

Plants to collect are listed below.
Fresh leaves: wild violet, red clover, chickweek, lamb’s quarters (also good cooked in recipes to replace spinach), purslane, mallow, and wood sorrel, young dandelion.

Blossoms: wild violet, pansies, Johnny jump ups, nasturtiums, oregano, lemon balm, wood sorrel

Petals (the whole blossom is chewy): dandelion, red clover, chive, calendula

Dried tea: mint, catnip, nettles*

Great for fresh leaf tea: lemon balm, mint, catnip

*Collection and use of nettle leaves: Stinging nettles have tiny hairs that irritate the skin. Some plants are more difficult to deal with than others. Use gloves when collecting, and be careful that you don’t rub against the plant accidently. I have found that if I am mindful I can touch them with my bare hands with little problems. But, believe me when I stray from mindful – they let me know. Nettles are not irritating when cooked like spinach or dried for tea.

Easy way to dry plants for tea:
• Trim the leaves from the plants
• Wash them if necessary
• Dry them on a towel or dab them dry
• Place them in baskets or in paper bags; keep them away from direct sunlight
• Fluff them a few times per day (enjoy the aroma)
• They should be dry in 2 – 5 days depending on humidity in the room

To make nutritious weed water iced tea, place your favorite herb and weed leaves in a jar of warm water. Then, put it into the refrigerator for an hour or more to infuse. Strain the plant material within a day – or you could end up with compost tea instead – which you should not drink.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Theresa. I learned a few things. CO