It turned out that this weed to also be an edible plant!
I did a bit of research and discovered that this weed I have spent my life walking over and never knew its real name is actually a member of a nutritious vegetable family!
I so had to try some!
Here's what I did...
First do a bit of research and make sure you know exactly what you are planning to eat and make sure you are getting your "weeds" from a place that hasn't been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. Then grab a pair of scissors and a basket/bucket/bag, the dog and maybe a book that ID's the plants you saw and head off to fetch yourself some free nutritious veges!
I decided to pick my vege weeds from the edges of this paddock, away from the places that other people might be walking their dogs... Just in case!
Then I started by looking for the tell tale seed heads of my target plant, Plantago Lanceolata - they seem to produce seeds all year round - and checked my book to make sure.
When I arrived at the paddock this particular afternoon we had had a bit of rain and there was lots of young leaves and since I had plenty of time and a huge paddock of these leaves to choose from, I picked the youngest tenderest ones I could find.
I had also identified "cats ear" (Hypochoeris radicata) and read that it was also edible. As there were lots of these plants there too I collected a few of them too.
The cats ear look like dandelion on first acquaintance but once I found this website that shows you the difference between the two plants, I could properly identify what I was looking for. I chose to try the cats ear and plantain together for my first "weed" mead!
First I rinsed them in a colander to get off the dirt and grass and what ever got tangled up when I picked them. I can say after doing this a few times, that its better to do all your sorting in the field. I now pick through and only take home the best leaves and try not to put grass etc in my basket. It makes the preparation at home quicker and easier.
Then I steamed/boiled them on a pot of boiling water. They cook down to practically nothing! A basket full will cook down to only a very large handful!
I used a pair of tongs to fish out the bits that shouldn't have got this far (grass coloured grass is so hard to see in amongst grass coloured leaves) and to toss the leaves about to cook the evenly.
I wasn't sure how long to cook them for but being Winter, I figured they would be tougher now than in the spring rains and went for a full 5 minutes.
Then I put them under the cold tap to cool them and stop the cooking and squeezed out the water. I cut them up into small bits with scissors while they were in a clump. They were surprisingly tough still so I made sure they were quite small pieces.
And then there was the vege bake with left over roast lamb, roast veges, cauliflower etc in a cheese sauce. The plaintain was chopped up fine rather than the starring ingredient.
Its been a fun thing to incorporate into our lives, It seems that plaintain is grown as a crop in some countries, is chock full of vitamins, fibre and is a really sustainable vegetable to grow.
Have a look at some of these websites that help identify the right plant and give you an idea of what health benefits are attributed to them. For my two cents worth, We noticed we slept better and don't get up to the loo so many times in the night after a meal with plaintain in it!
- Identify that Plant
- Eat the Weeds
- Natural Medicines
- Herbs are Special - edible weeds
- Mother Earth News - a weed you can eat
- Edible wild foods
- Introducing the Plantains - multi yielding plants for permaculture systems
Green-ness: 5/5 for eating greens provided by Mother Nature
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for walking down the road for a basketful of organic, pesticide/herbicide free greens that cost nothing!
Time cost: 10 to 15 minutes plus walking and consulting book time - also don't forget to bring the dog home and stop and smell (pick) the flowers!
Skill level: Just positive identification and a large dose of faith!
Fun-ness: You really start to look at weeds in a different way. I have been tempted at the lights to leap out of the car and grab some weed that I'm sure is edible growing on the traffic island! Its quite fun to be able to identify free food!