Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:49 pm
A few days ago, we presented you with techniques to fight weeds, while emphasizing that they do not deserve this appellation. On that occasion, we explained vaguely that in addition to promoting biodiversity, they could be eaten.
Of course, you can’t eat them all, because some of them can be toxic and make you sick, but some of them can be cooked for the greatest pleasure of your taste buds (after being well informed not to confuse two plants). We give you here 8 examples of weeds that you can eat and that you will even love to have in your plate.
These weeds are far from being “undesirable plants” and their name is definitely the only bad thing about them, especially since some plants here also have medicinal properties (nettles, etc.)! Note in any case that our list is not exhaustive: purslane, plantain… We did not mention them all.
We had to start somewhere so let’s start with the most obvious one! Although its stinging effect on the skin is unpleasant, this little flaw is quickly forgotten once in the kitchen! Nettle is indeed appreciated by great cooks and gastronomes of all kinds for its unique and indescribable taste, but so pleasant in mouth. It is therefore one of the best weeds to eat! It can be eaten in salads by mixing it with raw vegetables and sauce to remove the stinging effect, in infusion, in pesto to spread on spreads, in quiche, in soup… In addition, this depurative and detox plant is rich in minerals and vitamins and can be collected all year round.
The common adage speaks of eating dandelions by the root … well! we are not so far from reality. In fact, everything can be eaten from the dandelion: the leaves in salads, the flowers in jelly or in wine, etc. It is one of the best edible plants in the garden. And if it owes its name to its diuretic effects, its properties do not stop there since it is also marvelous against rheumatism of all types and water retention. It is also a powerful tonic that awakens the body and cleans the blood as well as an aid to digestion (it stimulates bile secretion). It contains minerals and vitamins A and C. An important recommendation: don’t pick them anywhere and especially not near roads (pollution) or in areas treated with chemicals (poison)… a tip that also applies to other herbs and mushrooms!
3) Cornish oxalis
Oxalis is not a happy plant with its tendency to cheerfully invade all green spaces and resist even effective herbicides! Yet it can be easily eaten. Between March and September, pick its heart-shaped leaves, whose tangy taste adds surprising value to salads of all kinds. You can also decide to cook them a bit like sorrel, which reduces the oxalic acid levels they contain (this element can lead to calcium deficiencies and that is why you should not consume too much). Flowers make beautiful decorations.
It is generally considered better not to eat the young fruits, but between May and June, some people do not hesitate to put them in a jar with vinegar to make a condiment that will have nothing to envy the capers. This plant with diuretic, digestive and anti-inflammatory powers is not suitable for those who suffer from gout, hyperacidity or kidney stones.
This close cousin of tarragon and wormwood has a pleasant aromatic power. In fact, between April and June, you can pick the tips of its stems. It is a reservoir of sweet and mild flavors. It’s as delicious in salads as it is in sweets such as homemade fritters. Some recipes even invite it in simmered sauces for fish and meat for a little extra roundness! It also helps to digest fatty foods and fights against gastric disorders. However, it is not recommended to consume it too regularly and it is forbidden to pregnant and breast-feeding women!
Burdock root has a really interesting sweet taste not unlike salsify or artichoke. It can be harvested in the fall and spring (with some effort, as it is not easily dislodged from the ground). You can eat it raw by grating and slicing it. Otherwise, it can be cooked in water or in a pan to be eaten hot. The green of the leaves requires a good cooking otherwise it is too bitter to be consumed like spinach for example. In May-June, you can pick up the young crunchy stems to eat them raw. Just remember to peel them first! The flower can also be eaten, but removing the hooks is very tedious and time consuming.
It is mainly found in moist and shady areas. Also, it is a good bio-indicator of soil fertility and balance. It can be harvested all year round to take advantage of its diuretic and tonic benefits. On the other hand, it is slightly laxative so do not eat astronomical quantities either.
It is also more nutritious than most of the herbs mentioned earlier. In fact, it provides vitamin C, magnesium and calcium. Its tender and juicy leaves and stems have a discreet nutty taste that can be enjoyed raw in a salad. For example, it is a delight in the Japanese salad with seven herbs. However, it is also great with a simple drizzle of olive oil and cider vinegar. It can also be added to cooked dishes such as quiches or soups, but you will lose some of its vitamins. Before consuming it, do not neglect the cleaning stage which must be very meticulous.
7) Sow thistle
This plant is not uncommon in orchards, vegetable gardens and along roadsides. The leaves of this plant, which is considered a wild vegetable, have a very sweet taste. Moreover, they can be consumed during a large part of the year. They are often used raw in salads, but they can also be used as vegetables. In this case, they are cooked like spinach or in a soup (especially the older shoots). You can also add them to your lacto-fermented vegetable mixes. The trick is to cut them regularly. You also need to make sure it doesn’t bloom so you can have it all summer.
All varieties of this plant famous for giving its name to a color are edible. We often appreciate this plant where everything can be eaten for its nutritional wealth! Indeed, we find a good dose of proteins, fibers, amino acids and fats, many minerals and lecithin…. Of course, all this without a gram of gluten and with a very pleasant sweet taste!
In fact, it is commonly used as a vegetable in tropical and subtropical regions. The seeds are often ground into flour to replace 25% of normal flour. Amaranth flour does not rise, but gives a sweet taste and softness to the preparations. They are also eaten as cereals to be toasted with a little oil, sprouted, cooked in water, added to gratins or vegetable cakes. The leaves can be used like spinach and added to pies, fritters, soups… Finally, the red flowers to be eaten raw while still young (from July to October) are as beautiful as they are delicious. And they are also good for your health with their anti-cancer reputation. The ones from the florist are however to be avoided, because they are full of chemicals.