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Whether you've found yourself wandering the wilderness, or you'd just like to see what kind of wild foods mother nature serves up nearby, learning about wild edible plants is an excellent way to explore nature. By incorporating these into your meals, you'll not only be living more sustainably, you'll also have a more varied, rich diet, and you'll be saving money - what more could you want? From common weeds to juicy berries, we're diving into 5 edible plants that are not only widely available in the wild, but they taste excellent, especially when it comes to mixing them up in a nice refreshing salad. Let's dive in!
For those who love their gardens, you'll probably see the robust dandelion more as something you want to destroy rather than bring to your dinner table, but hear us out. The entire plant is edible - the flowers, leaves, and even the roots - but they taste much better when they're younger, while they still have their bright yellow flower heads. You can either boil the roots as tea, use the leaves in a green salad, or pop the flowers on top for a colorful garnish!
While many people avoid nettle due to its unforgiving stinging abilities, they are one of the most nutritionally-rich wild plants around - and best of all, they're everywhere! With a similar flavor profile to spinach or kale, nettle can easily be used as a substitute for any leafy green. They develop their stinging abilities when they reach maturity, so if you're planning on eating them raw in a salad, make sure you only pick the young ones - otherwise, you could be in for a nasty shock! Alternatively, you can neutralize the sting by sauteing, boiling, or steaming and chucking them into a pie or stirring them through pasta. Nettle also makes an excellent medicinal tea.
Garlic Mustard is another weed that seems almost determined to ruin every garden in the state. But if you look at them like a tasty opportunity rather than a destructive nightmare, you'll actually realize they have tons of uses in the kitchen. You need to be a little careful with this one and only harvest when it's young, as mature plants contain cyanide. This, however, can be taken care of by cooking the entire plant thoroughly. It's excellent for adding a little flavor and spice to dips and sauces but can also be thrown into salads and stir-fries.
Wild berries are one of nature's greatest gifts. They're Juicy, sweet, and perfect just as they are - just give them a bit of a wash first! They can also be great for using in baking, cakes, desserts, or as a topper for granola or cereal, or thrown into a smoothie to add a bit of sweetness.
Curly dock is abundant in all kinds of places, and if you have a bit of a wild garden, chances are you've seen it there too. Mature leaves can be a bit bitter, so it's best to boil these a few times before consuming, and the stalks are excellent eaten raw, or you can boil them after peeling the outer layers. A word of warning though, they do contain oxalic acid, so they should only be consumed in moderation, but for the odd addition to stir-fries, salads, or soups, go nuts!
If you'd like to give foraging a try, you couldn't find a better guide than Edible Wild Plants for Beginners. It includes all the critical information you need to start foraging for edible plants, tips on adding them into your diet, and the all-important safety info on how to tell a dangerous plant from an edible one.