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We all know of the great variety of plants we eat on a daily basis – your fridge is full of fruit and veggies (we hope) from the local supermarket. What you may not know is that there are actually a vast number of edible plants you may find innocently blossoming in your garden or out on a nature walk. In fact there are an extraordinary amount of plants you probably didn’t know you could eat but have been under your nose the whole time. Here we compiled a list of a few which you may, or may not, decide to give a try in the near future:
You might be happy to hear that you can actually pluck out those annoying yellow flowers which keep sprouting in your well-kept lawn…and eat them. Perhaps this isn’t a plant you didn’t know you could eat, perhaps you’ve been making dandelion tea and salads of dandelion leaves since your great grandmother passed on her recipes. Either way, these little weeds actually offer a huge kick of vitamin K and a healthy dose of vitamins A, C and B6. They have an earthy, pleasingly bitter taste similar to plants of the chicory family (such as endives) and can be paired well with bacon, goat’s cheese, nuts and lemon.
A close relative to the Bulrush, with both being edible and used as medicinal plants for centuries. These reed plants are found near fresh water such as lakes, marshes, and the like. Most of the plant is edible. The leaves and young stems can be eaten raw or boiled, added to salads or eaten on their own. The flowers (actual cattails) can be eaten when they are young - roasted or boiled and eaten much like one would eat corn on the cob; these have a light and nutty flavour. The pollen from the mature flowers is also a protein-rich source of food and can simply be sprinkled over your morning pancakes.
Most of us have heard of this lovely little plant but many might not know that this is a plant you can eat! These tiny blue flowers are not only very pretty to look at but are also highly versatile in the kitchen. The flowers can be added to a salad, baked goods, or used as toppers for cakes and flapjacks. They can also be used to brew a tea which has a mild, grassy flavour. Forget-me-nots also make a delectable candied blossom.
Also known as Tropaelum, Nasturtium is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants. Nasturtiums not only have a beautiful fragrance but also a delicious peppery, radish-like taste and are widely used in salads and as a garnish. The orange, red, and yellow flowers can be eaten, as well as the young leaves. The flowers also add a powerful flavour to salad dressings and are delicious with guacamole.
Definitely a plant you didn’t know you could eat! This very prickly plant actually tastes like spinach and can be used to make a tasty nettle soup. Nettles can also be used to make a lovely pesto or even a nettle beer brewed from the young shoots. Stinging nettles have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and brewing a tea from the leaves can help relieve urinary ailments. Add nettles to almost any dish for a tasty garnish such as polenta with nettles, goats cheese, and peas.
This is by no means a full list; there are many, many plants out there which are edible and perhaps not so well known. For those willing to experiment in the kitchen, or those stuck out in the wild, knowing which plants are edible can add some interesting flair to your cooking…or save your life!