Foraging for edible plants and flowers


Hello, Nick! As I was chopping some of my endlessly growing vegetation, I was wondering if any of this stuff that we are discarding all the time might be edible? Perhaps you would like to discuss this. — A. and A.

Since the early 1900s, Americans began the great migration to the cities, and with that they lost their foraging ability. I mean back in the “good ole days,” many people did just what you are suggesting: forage the backyard and nearby fields and hills for edible food. Perhaps the time has come to learn which ornamentals are nutritious edibles. Caution: Before foraging, research the plant to verify it is edible, and most importantly, make sure it is properly identified by a qualified person. Eating the wrong plant can be disastrous.

Here is a short list of some well-known edibles. Check the Internet, especially university websites, for a more comprehensive list.

A. Weeds — If you can’t

beat them, eat them!

1. Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale: Fresh dandelion leaves can be eaten raw, in salads, added to a stir fry, or boiled and steamed like spinach. They have a bitter taste, but boiling will help take that out. Dandelions also make a great addition to soups and stew. They are high in carotenes, iron, calcium and vitamins A and C. As a detoxifying agent, dandelions aid with liver, urinary and gall bladder disorders, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Dandelion root tea is sold in local health food stores.

2. Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) is also called wild spinach with similar nutritional value to spinach.

3. Burdock (Arctium Lappa) is a weed rich in potassium, iron and calcium.

4. Common mallow (malva neglecta) the leaves, stems, and immature seeds are eaten raw or cooked. Mallow is reported to be rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium, and vitamins A and C.

5. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a succulent; the leaves, stems and flowers can be eaten either fresh or cooked. The leaves contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant.

Other edible weeds include chickweed, white and red clovers and plantain.

B. Edible flowers

1. Marigolds are one of the most commonly grown ornamental annuals. When dried and crumbled, the petals of marigolds can substitute for the most expensive spice in the world: saffron.

2. Roses, both the petals and the rosehips (fruit), are edible. Rose water is often used in scones, cakes, sherbets, salads and icings.

3. Sunflowers – in addition to the commonly eaten seeds, the petals can be added to soups and stir-fry dishes. The sunflower buds can be steamed and eaten like an artichoke.

4. Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.) — Some species (especially H. fulva) are cultivated in Asia for their edible flowers. The petals can be eaten raw or more commonly dried and used as a flavoring in soups. The young shoots should be cooked and have a pleasant sweet flavor. Even the roots are edible.

Nasturtium, violas, borage and calendula flowers are also edible and frequently used in salads.

Rose Scones:

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter/coconut oil

3/4cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon rosewater*

(*flavor extract made with rose petals)

1/4 cup rose petals, cleaned and finely shredded

Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Cut butter/coconut oil into flour mixture until particles are the size of small peas.

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, milk and rose water. Stir in the shredded rose petals. Add the rose mixture to the dry ingredients; stir until soft dough forms. Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheet. Bake approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

While scones are baking, prepare icing. Remove scones from oven to a baking rack and cool slightly, then drizzle the prepared icing over the scones while still slightly warm. Rose Icing: 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons rose water, shredded roses (for color).

Class Announcement

I will be teaching a class, “Common Insects and Diseases in the Garden” from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. There is a fee. Call 974-7664 to register or go online, http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/ccecs/fitness/ for a full description of the class.

 

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