Have fun foraging for food
As the weather gets warmer and we spend more time outdoors it may be the time to look a little more closely at the plants that are in our gardens and growing wild to see whether they are edible and if they are to find out how to prepare them to add to our food. Many people see weeds as a gardener’s curse but if you get to know which weeds are edible you may have a whole vegetable patch growing right under your nose. As some common plants can be quite toxic it is always sensible to check before eating either online or in one of the many foraging guidebooks out there.
So, which common plants are safe to eat and use as ingredients in dishes? Nettles are often the bane of any gardener’s life as they are extremely difficult to get rid of when they are growing in the garden and always manage to sting whoever is unlucky enough to brush past them, but they are thought to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and boast an incredible array of vitamins and minerals. When gathering nettles wear rubber gloves then plunge the freshly picked, ideally young leaves in boiling water for a minute to destroy the sting. The leaves can then be used in soups or instead of spinach in lots of other recipes.
Dock leaves are actually part of the rhubarb and sorrel family and their stems have a slightly sour taste, but they are full of pectin so are ideal to use in jam making. The leaves can be used in the same way as nettle leaves replacing any leafy veg. Another common plant that can be used in salads are dandelions although the leaves do have a bitter taste to them. The dandelion flowers can be used to make a delicious homemade wine.
Wild garlic can often be seen growing near streams and ponds and its leaves and flowers are delicious in salads and stir fries. It can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic. Another really tasty addition to a salad is chickweed. Full of vitamin C it has been used for centuries as a food and medicine and often grows alongside lettuces in vegetable beds as it likes to grow in shady spots in damp soil.
So next time you are out for a walk take along a bag and some rubber gloves and get foraging, it’s fun.