Left is my wilding pal Toby.
According to some interesting books I’ve been reading, many of the common weeds found in my yard have more nutrition than the vegetables you buy. For example dandelions are a great dietary source of calcium, vitamins A, and K, plus the antioxidant lutein.
Purslane happens to have more Omega-3 fatty acid than any other plant plus lots of vitamin C and other stuff.
Early settlers and Indians made use of wild edibles in season and dried them for winter use. In the past 60 years or so, we have stopped harvesting wild greens. Now we rely on things we buy. You’re probably thinking, who wants to eat something growing in the lawn? I look at it this way. Unless I put herbicides or fertilizers on the lawn, these greens should be safer than fruits and vegetables imported from who knows what foreign places with who knows what standards of hygiene. Plus, I know fruit and vegetable farmers put every known pesticide available on their crops.
Anyway, since I have more dandelions and various weeds than grass, why not turn that to my advantage.
There are a lot of books and internet sites with lots of recipes. I decided not to follow any of the recipes but to just use weeds in the foods I already prepare. First I threw a big handful of mixed weeds into a vat of homemade vegetable soup. No difference in the taste, but it felt good knowing the extra nutrients were in there.
I made up a salad with my garden lettuce plus garlic mustard, lambs quarters, and purslane. Added some feta cheese, dried cranberries, pecan pieces, baked chicken pieces and raspberry vinaigrette. I have to admit, I couldn’t taste the wild stuff but that was OK because the vitamins, minerals and omega 3 where there.
I plan to try adding some to meatloaf, soups, vegetables, omelets, and salads. Using them on sandwiches and hamburgers instead of or with lettuce. Throwing some in cake mixes or pancake batter. I might toss some in with the apples or rhubarb in a pie. I don’t think you’d notice a taste, but the foods would be just a little better for you.
Sunday evening I went wilding. Picked, rinsed and stored my stuff in the fridge for later meals. I picked a bunch of wild mint too. Rinsed it and added it to the water in ice cube trays. It will be good in iced tea and lemonade.
I'd love to hear about your wilding experience and stories. A lot of people in my area love hunting morels and wild asparagus. I'm a little afraid of the mushrooms but hope to go out with some experienced friends and learn which ones are safe and which are not.
While doing some reading on harvesting wild plants, I remembered a wonderful novel I read a long time ago. Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver. Think I'll look for my old copy and reread it.
Important: I have to say this to anyone who might try wilding. Don’t eat anything unless you are sure it’s safe. Check out books and internet sites with photos and descriptions of edible plants. Be sure no one has sprayed chemicals on the greens you pick.