Lentils and buckwheat are both lovely companion plants as well as N fixers and soil improvers. But, are they edible? I'm not talking sprouts; I am talking stems, flowers, leaves of the "adult" plant used to enchant salad mixes or in cooked dishes.
Buckwheat greens (flowers too) are totally edible and tasty. I put them in salads and smoothies. If they go to seed, you can cook the seeds too, though I haven't tried to get the black hulls off. Dark buckwheat flour that you buy has dark specks in it, so I think they must grind it with the hulls. A friend did so, and shared a photo of the resulting pancakes on Facebook.
Im interested in what others say but I heard conflicting reports regarding buckwheat. They are in the Polygonaceae family and I remember Frank Cook saying that everything in this family is either edible or medicinal but nothing poisonous. So my tendency would rely on his word. I guess moderation is the key to everything and luckily everything has a season.
Heather Holm wrote:Buckwheat greens (flowers too) are totally edible and tasty. I put them in salads and smoothies. If they go to seed, you can cook the seeds too, though I haven't tried to get the black hulls off. Dark buckwheat flour that you buy has dark specks in it, so I think they must grind it with the hulls. A friend did so, and shared a photo of the resulting pancakes on Facebook.
If you put buckwheat grains that you harvest into an electric coffee mill/moulinex type grinder etc. the husks will flake off by themselves, and stay intact so you can easily sieve them out of the flour (and maybe save them to stuff pillows).
I found the best way to harvest the grain was to cut the stalks when the seeds were mostly dry, tie them up in sheaves to dry further and then either lay them on a sheet and trample on them with bare feet, or use a homemade threshing machine (
) and winnow afterwards.
I ate the young leaves sometimes. They were rather bitter raw.
There has been discussion of legume leaves as human food before, this link is helpful: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1990/V1-391.html Legume leaves are traditionally eaten in many parts of the world, almost always after processing (soaking, leaching, boiling and changing water), almost never raw, which strongly suggests that they contain toxins. Also note that the people who eat them are in many cases, hungry, and may not exactly be *choosing* to eat them.
I ate raw alfalfa leaf salad once. It was very bitter, but filling. IMO eating legume greens from time to time won't do any harm, but making raw lentil green smoothies a regular part of your diet is probably inadvisable
Here in Ladakh, buckwheat greens are prized as a cooking green. They are collected once in spring as a garden and field weed, and the excess is dried for winter. It makes a smoother cooked green than many others, excellent texture and fine flavor. It's one of my favorites. Since we don't have buckwheat as a weed in our school, we sometimes buy dried buckwheat greens to use for winter feasts. (A typical vegetarian feast menu at our school would be rice, dal, an egg curry, a cabbage-potato curry, and a mess of buckwheat greens with paneer or mushrooms)
However, it is not eaten in large amounts, just occasionally, and I believe this is important. I have read online that buckwheat leaves in large amounts can cause painful photosensitivity and blisters, in both horses that get into buckwheat fields, and in humans who drink daily large green juice/smoothies that have buckwheat greens.
As long as you incorporate them in a varied diet, buckwheat greens are great.
I think buckwheat is not a nitrogen fixer, but is used as a green manure because it makes great amounts of biomass and has an almost magical effect on improving soil tilth.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.