Every so often, a new diet craze story flashes across the news, tapping into the pulse of the fitness and healthy diet conscious. Some diets have even become the subject of passionate discussions on positions of one over the other. We won't be getting into that. Instead, let’s talks weeds and how foraging for food in the wild is the next rage. They get everywhere - in your potted plants, in your backyard. It’s almost like they spontaneously appear. It’s a war! But they're all not bad. In fact, some of us eat them! But before we dive in, a few simple rules:
- Make sure you're not wandering around private property where you might get chased or worse, shot (it happens)
- Steer clear of roadside edibles as they may contain toxic residue from traffic
- Do not pick all you can see. This gives the plant a chance to replenish next season
- If you're not sure what it is, do not pick the plant
- First, check the regulations of your state, some restrict removing wildlife from public areas
Let the hunter-gathering begin! (Our ancestors would be so proud)
Here Are 4 Edible Wild Foods You Can Forage This Fall
Grow from seeds that are pollinated mainly by the wind, but various insects also help in pollination. They Flower in early summer to fall season. Even though lamb’s quarters lost the popularity contest to spinach, it outclasses spinach. It comes packed with mountains of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C and lots of vitamin A. This misunderstood plant was once so popular it was called “all good” in ancient times. Like spinach, ‘all good’ contains oxalic acid which when eaten in large amounts can interfere with the body’s absorption of iron and calcium. Cooking, however, breaks this acid down. You should pair lamb’s quarters with calcium-rich products to avoid any difficulties.Cooking, however, breaks this acid down. You should pair lamb’s quarters with calcium-rich products to avoid any difficulties
Also called sunroot, Jerusalem artichokes or earth apple, this species of sunflower is native to North America. It is also widely cultivated for its tuber as a root vegetable and grows steadily in cold climates. Sunchokes contain inulin, a pro-biotic substance that supports the growth of good bacteria aiding bowel function and health. It can also be used as a low-starch substitute for potatoes. They also contain vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous and are a good source of iron. Sunchokes can make you gassy so eat them in moderation. You can remedy this by slicing the tubers and boiling them for 15 minutes in water containing lemon juice or slow cooking in the oven. This converts the indigestible carbs into fructose (sugar).
Coming in at number three, this miniature version of regular apples can be sour and pithy. Like regular apple seeds, their seeds contain toxins (like cyanide). However, they can only cause you serious problems if you eat a lot of them or chew and swallow the seeds. Some larger crabapples are used to make jam or tarts. Research shows that this miniature apple contains
an appreciable amount of vitamin C, about 8 milligrams per 3 ounces of apple. Depending on the variety of apple, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants. The flavonols anthocyanin (dark red pigment in some apples) and quercetin may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease diabetes and asthma. In order to get the most of these beneficial qualities of crab apples you should consume them with the skin.cause you serious problems if you eat a lot of them or chew and swallow the seeds. Some larger crab apples are used to make jam or tarts. Research shows that this miniature apple contains an appreciable amount of vitamin C, about 8 milligrams per 3 ounces of apple. Depending on the variety of apple, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants. The flavonols anthocyanin (dark red pigment in some apples) and quercetin may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease diabetes and asthma. In order to get the most of these beneficial qualities of crab apples you should consume them with the skin.
Don't let the name scare you off, this wild edible green can be tamed and served in style for dinner. Used as a dye since the bronze age, nettles contain supplies of minerals and vitamins. Packed with loads of iron, this edible backyard weed can give your regular greens a good run for their money. Recipes for soup, tortellini, pesto and sorbet can be found online and in some cookbooks. You can also use this backyard weed to make tea. Considering how combative these edible wildlings are, and this can't be stressed enough, wear gloves when picking them. They aren't called stinging nettle for nothing!
Needs no introduction, we see these just about everywhere; from the suburban or wilderness to the farm land. These resilient plants are extremely bitter (blame the tons of healthful calcium) when flowers form so pick them pre-flowering stage. All parts of this edible green are well, edible and can be harvested during any frost-free period. They can be eaten raw, roasted (in this form, you can use it to make a coffee-like beverage), dried or steamed. Dandelion has long been used as a liver tonic or for it’s diuretic. properties. The leaves are like vitamin pills and are rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants and potassium. If you're feeling creative, here’s a quick recipe:
Sample Recipe | Dandelion & Chicken Delight
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 bunch dandelion greens, washed dried, stems removed raw* (see below)
- 1 lemon, squeezed (you can substitute with an orange too)
- Grilled chicken breast, cubed
- Sliced apple
- Maple syrup, drizzle just a little
*To help solve the bitterness problem, boil your fresh dandelion greens two-three times for 5-8 minutes at a time. This helps leach the bitterness. Each time you drain the water, place the dandelion greens into a bowl of very cold water to cool them quickly. They may still be some collard green-like bitterness left after this is done. Using the lemon, honey and maple syrup help mask or overpower that taste.