If weeding is the bane of your life and you can’t stand the fact that no sooner have you rooted out the offending plants than they reappear in double quick time, it may be some consolation to learn that several are edible. In fact our ancestors relied on early spring plants to provide some green food after the winter. I discovered this from an article by Melody Rose which I found on Dave’s Garden website.
Spring is almost at our doorsteps and for a lot of us that means wild spring greens.Our ancestors knew what to do. After a long, cold winter with no fresh foods and garden produce still months away, they foraged edible, early spring plants and brought some needed nutrients and flavor into otherwise boring and lack-luster winter fare. Readers might be surprised at the variety of green edibles available in late winter and here in west Kentucky, we have some interesting choices.
I’m fortunate to live in a rural area with abundant wild plants. My own home sits on acreage where there is no pesticide use and there’s no chance of agricultural run-off contaminating my property. If you are planning to forage from the wild, please be aware that your plants may have been dosed with a ‘salad dressing’ that you might not want. Pesticides, automobile exhaust and agricultural wastes do not make worthy condiments in this spring feast. Choose your foraging area carefully.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are common just about everywhere and were frequently used by our ancestors, but most of us do not know the best way to harvest or use them. They are high in iron, which was a boon for winter-weary pioneers. The first rule is, if your plant is blooming, the leaves are too old and will be bitter. Dandelion leaves do have a bit of a ‘bite’ to them, but when they are older, the bite is more pronounced and unpleasant. Pick the young leaves and use them as you would spinach. Soak the leaves in a bowl of salty water after washing. This helps dislodge any insects that may still be hitching a ride on your feast. The leaves are great in stir-frys, quiche and pestos. I also wrote an article a couple of years ago using the flowers to make jelly. It was labor-intensive, but turned out scrumptious.
Dead nettle (Lamium purpurem) is an early spring plant that isn’t actually a nettle. It is a member of the mint family, however it doesn’t taste like mint.
See more at Dave’s Garden