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edible wild things  RSS feed

 
Kristine Walker
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wondering what types of edible wild things are good to actually eat. so far i have tried lambs quarter and plantain, and they were both descent. i also know about sour leaves(sorrel?) and clover being edible as i used to eat them as a child. today i picked some queen anne's lace and could not find anything really about how you are supposed to eat it. it smells good. it seems too woody to just bite into it and i am afraid to do so after my initial experiment with wild food and the taste of raw dandelion is fresh on my mind. yeah, i know now you need to cook them. lol..... so which wild plants actually taste good?
 
Nicole Castle
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Location: Madison, AL
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Well, it depends on where you are and what your taste buds are like. Local wild edibles here include many berries, but some patches are better than others. We also have wild paw paws and other larger fruits.

Personally, I think ox-eyed daisies and redbud blossoms are quite tasty.
 
Judith Browning
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Kristine Walker wrote:wondering what types of edible wild things are good to actually eat. so far i have tried lambs quarter and plantain, and they were both descent. i also know about sour leaves(sorrel?) and clover being edible as i used to eat them as a child. today i picked some queen anne's lace and could not find anything really about how you are supposed to eat it. it smells good. it seems too woody to just bite into it and i am afraid to do so after my initial experiment with wild food and the taste of raw dandelion is fresh on my mind. yeah, i know now you need to cook them. lol..... so which wild plants actually taste good?


Here, we have an abundnce of persimmons and muscadines, both delicious picked at the right time, also lambs quarters (we like it cooked), purslane, dandelons and dock but only very young spring leaves, poke weed... eatten only after cooking through several waters....lots of medicinal herbs...passionflower vine , self heal, yarrow, bergamot, st johns worts, and on and on. It has taken us years and good field guides to identify some plants and mushrooms. Please dont nibble to ID something. Get a book ,a dvd, a local herbalist and make sure you have an edible plant. I've never heard of eatting queen anne's lace... as a green or a medicinal tea?

EDIT: I found Queen Annes Lace in Richters Herb catalog..."infusion is used in the treatment of dropsy, chronic kidney disease and bladder afflictions. Leaves applied with honey sooth external and sores ulcers.".......so much to learn, I didnt know this.
 
leila hamaya
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i like to go one at a time with the new plant friends. so i get to know one particular plant really well, study it some, make different kinds of foods with it, spread its seed. then i will move on to another.
i dont really plan it that way, but thats the way it flows for me. i feel like that particular plant calls to me...then i know i should look into it more and start eating it.

plus then i see it everywhere!!! its weird, or not so weird. once i get into a plant like that suddenly i realize its everywhere....

i find some plants that other people talk about, or that...i know are wild edibles, but until they call to me i leave them alone.
not that anyone should do things this way, just this is how it flows for me. i've gotten to know each one better that way.

i wouldnt eat queen annes lace, personally. its medicinal, BUT ....well i think its somewhat toxic basically...but it depends on the amount. some people are allergic to it i think.
 
Cal Edon
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May I recommend the works of Samuel Thayer - The Forager's Harvest and Nature's Garden? They are probably the best books on foraging and wild foods I've ever come across.

For wild carrot - the roots are the original form of carrots, and are harvested and eaten rather like carrots. The shoots of second-year plants are peeled and eaten. Conveniently, they're available right when carrots aren't. Their leaves can be eaten in salads when young and in soups when older. The seeds, when stripped from their bristly covers, are used as seasoning rather like dill or caraway, or to make tea.

NOTE: the seeds of wild carrot contain high levels of various hormones which can interfere with pregnancy or embryonic implantation, and were used as a form of morning-after birth control in several societies with a surprisingly high rate of success. Do not ingest them if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Everything in the celery family contains these hormones as a means of defense against predators (see the lost spice, silphium, for an example), but carrot seeds are particularly potent. They're a pretty good spice, too, which is sort of a shame, depending on how you look at it.
 
Jordan Lowery
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I second NOT trying plants by tasting them. Tell that to my friends little sister who died from eating nightshade berries. And as she was dying she mentioned "they tasted pretty good"

The BEST source of knowledge is someone who knows AND uses the plants on a regular basis.
 
Cal Edon
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Also, see the following website: http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotops.html . It includes a variety of recipes for carrot greens.
 
Kristine Walker
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i have only tasted/eaten things that i am certain about identifying, like the broad leaf plantain, it is pretty hard to confuse. i have known queen anne's lace all my life by it's flower and can easily differentiate it from the hemlock. i actually had never noticed hemlock before but i did find some yesterday when i was foraging for rotting wood. i thought that the QAL should be eaten like a carrot. i ended up wasting the ones i had now though, because i wasn't sure about eating them raw. i don't have anyone to help me identify plants but what i do is pick them and then look them up online and check all the things to look for/watch out for. i am not that brave with berries, and i think it is because of constant warnings not to eat unknown berries as a child so i have yet to sample any wild other than the standard blueberries/raspberries/strawberries. i will certainly continue to be vigilant.

thank you for the links and suggested books. i am thinking i should at some point get a field guide on identifying plants so that i can double check while i am out and about.
 
Lieve Galle
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Kristine Walker wrote:... after my initial experiment with wild food and the taste of raw dandelion is fresh on my mind. yeah, i know now you need to cook them. lol..... so which wild plants actually taste good?


Raw dandelion leaf is fine actually, but make sure you mix it with something sweet, like grated carrots or chopped apples. Start with small amounts to get used to the bitter taste. I like them in green salads, with a lemon juice - olive oil dressing.
The leaves get less bitter after frost, and in early spring, before the flowers appear. Or you can cover the plant -while it's still growing in the soil- with earth, that bleaches the leaves and takes the bitterness away.
 
Kristine Walker
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thanks, lieve galle. that is a good point. i am pretty sure i have eaten dandelion greens in mixed salad before that tasted fine. i will try collecting some after it frosts (which is only a couple more months here)
 
leila hamaya
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yeah if you slice up the leaves into better tasting greens you dont notice it as much. MOST of these kinds of plants (but not all) are preferable when young, better taste.

but theres different ones that have different peak times to harvest.

i still wouldnt eat wild carrot (queen annes lace) !
and mostly it annoys me a bit because it messes up carrot seed harvest...if theres any wild carrot growing...within a large distance of your carrots...you wont get proper seed...it will cross.

well ok...maybe its just that morning after use...that got me thinking it was toxic.
a lot of the herbs that can be used as contraceptive like that are somewhat toxic in general...of course "toxic" is a funny word that gets misapplied. i dont think people should be too freaked out about toxic plants...really most plants arent toxic...and even the ones that are its in high doses. one isnt inclined to eat high doses of those plants.

i mean, be careful for sure, but i just dont think its appropriate to present that foraged plants are usually dangerous, thats just not true. of the thousands and thousands of plants theres not that many that are seriously toxic. so its like...a bit of paranoia i think to go too extreme with that...most of the plant worl is not out to get ya!!!

but obviously its good to be sure.
i know some people who are seasoned at foraging and identifying plants that have made mistakes and gotten stomach aches and worse. so yeah, be careful...but its rare to find a plant that calls to you...that is seriously toxic.
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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anyone have good recipes for milk thistle?
i hear it tastes like parsnip so ive been thinking to just replace parsnip with thistle, wanted to see if anyone here had prior experience be3fore i did though...
or sow thistle, i have both, just dont know as much about sow thistle....

and good recipes for curly dock?
dandelion?
mallow?

those are all the wild edibles that i KNOW are in the area and have identified...
 
Lieve Galle
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Devon Olsen wrote:anyone have good recipes for milk thistle?
i hear it tastes like parsnip so ive been thinking to just replace parsnip with thistle, wanted to see if anyone here had prior experience be3fore i did though...
or sow thistle, i have both, just dont know as much about sow thistle....

and good recipes for curly dock?
dandelion?
mallow?

those are all the wild edibles that i KNOW are in the area and have identified...


where i am, thistles are too late for leaves, too early for roots, but i make a sun tea from the flowers, or you can peel the stem and steam it.

curly dock i blend with avocado and use as a dip, or we have a family recipe of mashed potatoes mixed with dock leaves, ground elder and stinging nettle.
dandelion i like to use in pesto (if you need to get used to the flavor, you may want to start with half basil/half dandelion leaf) - again, too late for the flowers here and too early for the roots.
mallow is great in a stew with lentils, or in soup. i use the leaves and decorate the dish with the flowers. young leaves can be used as a wrap, grape-leaf style.

hope this helps; enjoy!
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Lieve Galle wrote:
Kristine Walker wrote:... after my initial experiment with wild food and the taste of raw dandelion is fresh on my mind. yeah, i know now you need to cook them. lol..... so which wild plants actually taste good?


Raw dandelion leaf is fine actually, but make sure you mix it with something sweet, like grated carrots or chopped apples. Start with small amounts to get used to the bitter taste. I like them in green salads, with a lemon juice - olive oil dressing.
The leaves get less bitter after frost, and in early spring, before the flowers appear. Or you can cover the plant -while it's still growing in the soil- with earth, that bleaches the leaves and takes the bitterness away.


I let dandelions and dock come up all over my gardens so I have a lot to experimant with I guess. I was wondering how to cover to blanch the dandelion leaves...if I should put the dirt straight on top or put a layer of something in between and how long does it take and would it work for dock also?
Thanks Lieve and thanks Kristine for starting this thread.
 
Devon Olsen
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Thank you Lieve!
there isn't a specific step by step but that gives me ideas to look for recipes for, so thanks!

and blanching dandelion.... does this improve flavor or just make it look more exotic?
FYI i hear there is a CULTIVATED species of dandelion, but i personally think there is no use in cultivated kind if you got free wild ones, not unless there is a significant difference in flavor anyway
 
Lieve Galle
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Devon Olsen wrote:Thank you Lieve!

and blanching dandelion.... does this improve flavor or just make it look more exotic?


as far as i know, it's only done to reduce the bitterness... or to pretend you have moles in your yard

judith, you can just cover them in a pile of soil - dandelion leaves grown that way are sold here in the supermarket as 'moleslaw'

 
Sarah Pope
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I found a bunch of wild things that are edible growing in my yard. I was actually fairly shocked at how many edible herbs there were and how tasty they are!

http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/do-you-have-a-herb-garden-and-not-even-know-it/


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
 
Isaac Hill
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Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Amaranth is a wonderful cooked green, it tastes just like spinach and is a great free and healthy alternative to greens shipped from some other part of the world. Wild mushrooms can be fantastic, you just have to know what you're looking for. Wild nuts like hazels, walnuts and hickories are also great. The wild fruit has to be my favorite though, and around here that includes choke cherries, wild plums, black berries, raspberries, blueberries, wild strawberries, black nightshade, autumn olive, mulberries, juneberries... not as many pawpaws and persimmons around here as there should be, but there are some, and those are a treat for sure.
 
Isaac Hill
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Also, sarah, I'm pretty sure that's NOT nettle in that photo but instead wild prickly lettuce.
 
leila hamaya
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Isaac Hill wrote:Also, sarah, I'm pretty sure that's NOT nettle in that photo but instead wild prickly lettuce.


it looks like sow thistle to me.
hard to distinguish from that pic, i could be wrong, but it looks a lot like sow thistle.
theres a lot of plants that have that similar look to wild lettuce.

edible, not that great tasting but ok flavor, very healing. sometimes i chop up some sow thistle leaves to eat raw in salad.

i've been really into mallows lately (including extended family hibiscsus and hollyhocks) and been eating a lot of wild mallow. i eat it raw chopped up in salads or with other green chopped small and thrown on top of soup at the last minute to just get lightly cooked. then, the best part- the flowers for garnish and eating.
 
Isaac Hill
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leila hamaya wrote:
it looks like sow thistle to me.
hard to distinguish from that pic, i could be wrong, but it looks a lot like sow thistle.


Yeah, could be that. They're closely related. Anyway, definitely NOT nettle!
 
leila hamaya
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Isaac Hill wrote:
leila hamaya wrote:
it looks like sow thistle to me.
hard to distinguish from that pic, i could be wrong, but it looks a lot like sow thistle.


Yeah, could be that. They're closely related. Anyway, definitely NOT nettle!


agreed, for sure its not nettles.

i really do think its sow thistle though.
theres a lot of variation of sow thistles, and wild lettuce, they are all similar looking but slight variations.

the wild lettuce we have here isnt prickly, though, and has blue flowers....its also quite yummy, better than another kind i tried before....

but i have mistaken some thistle for wild lettuce before...until it got older and became more obvious. at least they are both edible, but the wild lettuce is better tasting, and different kind of medicinal effect.

its the flower heads on that one, the leaves and the slightly purple color that looks more like the sow thistle we have here....but still a bit different in the leaves.
 
Tyler Ludens
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leila hamaya wrote:
the wild lettuce we have here isnt prickly, though, and has blue flowers


That's probably chicory Cichorium intybus http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/chicory.html

Lettuce is Lactuca species http://www.foragingtexas.com/2005/07/wild-lettuce.html

Sow thistle is Sonchus species

 
Kristine Walker
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i am so happy. (: i found an apple tree in the forest on my walk this evening and it was just so heavy with apples that it is bent right over. i ran home and got two large bags and harvested the ripe ones. i am pretty sure based on the tartness that they are crossed with crab apples. i am making pie filling to freeze and will be back again to get more for apple sauce.
 
leila hamaya
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
leila hamaya wrote:
the wild lettuce we have here isnt prickly, though, and has blue flowers


That's probably chicory Cichorium intybus http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/chicory.html

Lettuce is Lactuca species http://www.foragingtexas.com/2005/07/wild-lettuce.html

Sow thistle is Sonchus species



hmmmm you could be onto something, maybe youre right.
does it also have a white milky sap...juicy stuff from the leaves like lettuce?
it was a lot different from wild lettuce that i had seen elsewhere...but when i saw the milky sap i figured it was a lettuce variety...and it did look like other wild lettuce plants somewhat. but low to the ground...and it tasted somewhat like lettuce??
well not sure, but you could be right..

it grows all over my friends place in the mountains, but you dont see it on the coast here...

but anywho cool - learned a new plant =)
never checked out chicory before.
 
Laura Rose
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We are lucky to have a lOcal man. Who is getting good at organizing groups of children/ adults to go on a salad hunt. I have attend a few of his progra here in Nyack ny. Paul tappaden and a chef Lisa Have been posting receipts and info to a website. Rocklandforager. Com. I'm so grateful they exist and I call on them with help identifying plants I find. My iPhone helps a lot to take a picture and send it to him.
 
Denise Lehtinen
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Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
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This is a good site for people living in Florida:

http://www.eattheweeds.com/
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