are far more wild foods available than can be
listed here. These are some of the most common and easily
identifiable. However, in the end it doesn't matter how many wild foods
you can identify as much as how many wild plants near you that you can
pick that you can identify, so first, go out and see what you have
around, and then find out what it is and, if it is edible, how to cook
it.Try to learn what the plants are in your area by asking around or
for guided wildlife walks if possible.
Spring and summer is a good time to look for comfrey along river banks
and fields, where it grows wild and prolifically. Famed as a medicinal
herb, the leaves of this plant can also be eaten as a vegetable.
Lightly steamed or simmered, it has a faint taste of asparagus and is
easier to chew than spinach.
Try picking comfrey, nettles and dandelion leaves and cooking them by
simmering them with a few store-bought cabbage leaves for 10-15 minutes
to get other people willing to try eating wild food.
and ramsons/wild garlic. Look for these in the fields and by woods,
they are just starting to come out in large quantities. Can be cooked
or eaten raw. [Chives are pictured.] Wild garlic can often be
identified by the strong smell of garlic coming from woods by the side
of the road. Chives are pictured here.
can identify ground ivy
by its four-sided hairy stems, toothed, kidney-shaped leaves, and
clusters of bluish to purplish flowers in the leaf axils or at the ends
of the stems.It
grows wild in England and is a common lawn weed in the US. Used to be
used to flavor beer before hops took over. A "cure-all" plant, it was
good for whatever ailed you. Make a tea or
decoction out of the leaves, or use it as a flavoring in a gruit ale.
Dandelion The whole dandelion
plant is edible. Put the leaves in salad, or cook them the
same as you would cook spinach. Make wine from
the flowers. Put some
flowers in your teapot when you make tea for kombucha,
or just drop a flower in
any beverage as a decoration and get the advantages of whatever raw
pollen is in the flower. Dandelions have a cleansing medicinal effect.
Nettles. The young tops are very nutritious but rather tasteless.
Add some to a tasty soup to
make a tasty nettle soup. Wear gloves when picking. Nettles can also be
dried and added to soups as a dried herb.
and buds. The classic spring tonic. Make a tea out of
birch leaves to cleanse the body of all the toxins accumulated during
the winter. White birch, pictured here, is the easiest to learn to
identify, but there are many different kinds of birch, and all of them
delightful flavor in tea, ale or
pop (fizzy drink).
young leaves of the hawthorn tree are edible. Shred them and
in your sandwiches or salads, and collect a bunch to save in the
freezer. The taller the tree, the deeper its roots go into the soil
from 100's, if not 1000's, of years ago, bringing up trace minerals
depleted from the topsoil. The flowers and, of course, the berries are
also edible, and the wood can be infused to make a tea or used as the
liquid in making invert sugar syrup to make a syrup that can be used as
a substitute for maple syrup.
trees are normally very difficult to pick leaves from without being
stuck by the thorns. However, in May when the flower comes out, they
produce green ends of their branches with no thorns, and you can hold a
branch between your fingers and easily pull the leaves off without
elderberry, cherry and plum trees may grow wild or be escapees
cultivated areas. Check around. In the cities, look
around the local
parks. Make note where you see the trees, then come back later during
harvest time. Elderberries can be made into wine or cough
you live or pass near by the ocean shore shortly after a storm, pick
some kelp up from the beach. (By gathering seaweed after a storm, one
hopes to get kelp that has grown in the deep ocean away from land.) Kelp
can be added to bone broth
for added taste and nutrition in the soup.
and leaves are both edible. Put
flowers in salad or sauerkraut. Add leaves to sandwiches.
|Bidens pilosa, or Spanish needles (North
can be substituted for spinach in any cooked recipe. Learn to recognize
this plant by the seeds that grow in the autumn (and stick to you
when you are out walking in the woods), and then it will be
easier to identify the flowers in the spring.
These are the grass seeds you used to play with as a child, wrapping
the stem around the seed pod and then pulling the stem backwards,
causing the seed pod to break off the stem and shoot forward a little.
The seeds are high in fiber and the leaves are high in nutrition.
Identify the plants when the seeds are on them and you will be able to
harvest the leaves in the spring for spring salad. Gather the seeds
pods in the autumn, dry and pulverize them into a fine powder in the
blender to make a fiber medicine to provide bulk to the digestive tract.
Start to grow in the spring. Pick the young heads before they begin to unfurl and simmer in hot water until tender to cook.
Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine
by Peter Gail
Some wild foods are good for medicine, too:
Clover: American Indians used a tea made from clover for coughs and colds, and as an eyewash.
Comfrey: The root can be used for cuts, burns and skin ulcers. Also has laxative properties.
Hawthorn: The berries are used to provide support to heart and circulation system.
Called "life medicine" by the American Indians, considered a panacea
for many ailments including ashtma, fever, dysentery, coughs, hay fever
and bladder problems . The seeds are used as a de-wormer.
Spanish Needles: Cooking water is used to treat mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, headaches and hangover.
A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by
Sam Thayer. What's good about this book is that the author tells about
things he has experienced,
just cut and pasting or rephrasing what other people have written.
Guide to Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour. Has a recipe for honey mead