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Cooking With Wild Plants

Updated on September 1, 2012

You can eat rose petals!

Chop fresh, pesticide free rose petals and add them to pound cake or boxed yellow or white cake mix.
Chop fresh, pesticide free rose petals and add them to pound cake or boxed yellow or white cake mix.

How to Cook with Edible Wild Plants

I love to pick edible plants from my yard and the forest and then eat them! I also make medicines from them, but this hub is about simply cooking and enjoying them.

The first plant I truly learned how to identify was dandelion. As I got older, this was one of the first ones I started to pick and include in salads. Lamb's Quarters is the second plant I started using in salads. Things grew from there!

Cooking is a Passion!

I love cooking, and I love wild plants. They are beautiful and bountiful, and it is a shame not to utilize them in recipes. Why should we restrict ourselves to food we can only find in the store?

Over the years my knowledge of wild plants has grown and so have my recipes and the uses that I dream up for them. I thought I'd share with you some tips on how to incorporate wild foods into your own meals.

Wild Edible Plants and Proper Identification

Before you get started picking and eating wild plants, it is very important that you learn how to identify them properly. You just never know what is out there and if you identify a plant incorrectly, it could have consequences and you may even get sick.

Ask for Help

The absolute best way is to ask someone to help you identify the plants. However, even if you do have someone to show you, you should really purchase a good field guide. It can really help you expand your knowledge.

All I ask is that you check and double check each plant before you start using it.

Why not start with dandelion?

If you are unsure of what to do and where to start, why not begin with dandelion? Most of us know what it looks like because it is found everywhere - in parks, our lawn, in meadows... Do you feel secure knowing that you know how to identify it? If so, start picking! You can use the roots, leaves, and flowers but I mainly stick with the leaves and flowers.

Go On a Weed Walk

Another good way to learn how to identify plants is to find a scheduled weed walk event and attend it. There are experts pretty much all over the world who are more than happy to show people how to find these beautiful plants. They also offer insights into what you can do with the plants. Check at health food stores, the library, and any local parks to see if there are any weed walks near you.

Note: I found a video of my favorite herbalist, Susun Weed, identifying some plants. She even makes a motherwort tincture at the end.

Cooking with Dandelion

Use dandelion greens in salads or steamed. Try dipping the flowers in batter and frying them!
Use dandelion greens in salads or steamed. Try dipping the flowers in batter and frying them! | Source

Tips on Cooking with Wild Plants

So, what can you do with the plants once you identify them and pick them? Luckily, I have a few ideas!

  • Make a salad. I quite enjoy a salad made from dandelion, lamb's quarters, and chickweed. These are three of my favorite plants!
  • Steamed. You can make a nice steamed side dish out of greens like nettle, dandelion, and lamb's quarters. Note that chickweed doesn't boil well and is better when fresh.
  • Rice pilaf. Did you know that calendula flowers make a nice addition to rice pilaf? Add wild onions and chopped calendula flowers to oil. Add rice and broth or water and cook as usual. The calendula gives it a nice golden color.
  • Substitute. Do you have a recipe that calls for greens such as escarole or spinach? Most wild greens can be substituted. I find that lamb's quarters and nettle in particular make a nice substitute for spinach. For example, I regularly make spanakopita out of wild lamb's quarters.

Weed Walk Overview - Susun Weed

Some Ideas on How to Eat Wild and Edible Plants

So, I thought I would make a list of all my favorite uses for the plants that I have growing around me. Most of these plants grow all over the world, depending on the climate. But, you'll have to check in your field guide.

Dandelion. This is one of my all time favorite edible plants. I even like the leaves freshly picked and bitter in the height of the summer! I make salads out of the leaves or steam them. In the spring when the plants first start flowering, I pick them, dip them in batter, and fry them. When I think of it, I dig the roots in the fall and add them to stir fries.

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