Edible Wild Plants

Edible Wild Plants

I think you’re well aware that I love this time of year, when the grass is greening, birds are nesting and flowers are sprouting. Another benefit to spring and summer in the Northeast is the abundance of wild edible plants in our fields and forests.

Foraging for edible plants has numerous benefits. It gets you outside, and in touch with nature. Most of these plants can be used while cooking your every day recipes (and saves you a little money at the grocery store!) And, honestly, it’s just plain fun to go in search of, and find, what you’re looking for. With a little research you can find lengthy lists of options, but I’ve decided to share some of my favorites, and the ones I actually use, with you.

Dandelions

Dandelions are rich in vitamins and minerals and have been known to help in treating diabetes, liver problems, acne and anemia. The entire plant is edible, although beware they do tend to have a slightly bitter taste. You can eat them raw, or sauté as you might with spinach or other leafy greens. They are great in salads, or mixed with soft cheeses, such as goat cheese. Some people even boil them for Dandelion Tea or Dandelion Wine.

 

Wild Garlic (aka Crow Garlic)

While it is similar to the domestic garlic we are most familiar with, technically the two aren’t related. Many use it to help regulate cholesterol and treat high blood pressure. This can also be eaten raw or cooked, but if using to flavor a dish, be sure to toss it in at the very end so it retains its flavor. Be careful, as there is a similar looking grassy plant that is poisonous, aptly named the Death Camas. While they look a lot alike, the Death Camas does not smell like garlic. So be sure to do your research and smell the plant once it’s cut to ensure you’ve got that nice, tangy garlic smell.

Ramps (aka Wild Onions or Wild Leeks)

Growing in large patches, you can cut just the leaves and leave the rest of the plant to grow and replenish, or you can pull the entire plant, with it’s small, flavorful bulb, and use that as well. As with most wild edible plants, there are a number of ways to use ramps, either raw, in a salad or garnishing that loaded potato, or using to flavor a hot dish. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, ramps have been found to help in teeth and bone strength as well as treating skin irritations.

Wild Blackberries & Raspberries

As with any wild plant, you want to be confident in what you are picking and eating. There are a number of berries in the wild that are harmful to humans. Wild blackberries and raspberries are relatively easy to differentiate, and the taste is oh so worth doing your homework to make sure you’ve got the right berries! Loaded with anti-oxidants, blackberries and raspberries are known to help fight certain types of cancers. The sweet, juicy fruits can be used to make pies, dessert bars, as garnish for ice cream or cocktails, or just pop them in your mouth for a sweet, natural treat!

Shelley Nicholson

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