The next time you’re weeding your garden and you’re not sure whether to compost the weeds or burn them or take them to your local recycling centre, perhaps there is another option you might like to consider? You could always eat them! That’s right, many of the weeds growing in our beds and borders actually have many culinary uses, as I learnt on a recent foraging course.
The seeds of Plantains (see above picture) for example are rich in Vitamin B1 and the young leaves can be added to salads. When made into a tea, the concoction can also help with sore throats and ulcers.
The surprises don’t stop there though. The roots of Dandelions can make a decent coffee while the flowers can used to make wine. Nettle soup and nettle tea are relatively well known and popular but did you know that the young leaves of Burdock can be cooked like spinach while the seeds taste of orange? Chickweed can be used to make a pesto, Shepherd’s Purse seeds make a good substitute for pepper when flavouring dishes, Cleavers makes a delicate soup and the stems and leaves of the dreaded Ground Elder actually make a delicious aniseed flavoured side dish of greens.
Hairy Bittercress (see left) can be used to pepper a salad up, in a soup, or best of all to flavour a pot of mashed potato as seen on the right below! Delicious!
Now, before you go rushing out into your flower beds and start to munch on the nearest weed, it is important to remember that there are also some plants in the garden that are not edible and may even be poisonous. To make sure you pick the right plants to nibble on, we would recommend that you go on a foraging course like I did or at least use a reputable field guide book such as ‘Food For Free’ by Richard Maybe to help you identify the good from the bad and the ugly…