You Can Eat That?! Uncommon Edible Plants

October 11, 2017

There are many plants that you probably pass by every day that you could actually eat. And, the majority of them are weeds. So, if you find these weeds in your yard and they just make you so mad, just eat them instead! They can add unique flavors to dishes and even add in some extra nutrients.

A quick disclaimer: Always make sure you are completely sure on your identification of plants before consuming them. Also, it’s best not to pick anything that grows along the sides of roadways or in or near sources of water that are close to roadways as the pollution can be absorbed by plants.

Dandelions- probably one of the more well-known edibles that can be found in the garden, both dandelion flowers and young leaves are edible. Both can be eaten raw or cooked and work well in fresh salads or a stir fry.

Dandelion Flowers and Greens Photo Courtesy of My Trainer Fitness

Dandelion Flowers and Greens Photo Courtesy of My Trainer Fitness

Purslane- this hard-to-kill weed grows just about anywhere but really packs a punch in the kitchen. The succulent-like leaves and reddish stems have a peppery taste and work well in salads, stir fries, and even in soups as a thickener. It has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, too.

Purslane Photo Coutesy of Common Ground Farm

Purslane Photo Coutesy of Common Ground Farm

Cattail (Tyhpa latifolia)- we see them almost anywhere near water which makes these an easy to find plant in our area. The young female flowers (the cattails) can be roasted and are said to taste similar to an ear of corn. Many of the other parts of this plant can be made into flour, used as a thickener, and used in salads.

Cattails Photo Courtesy of Gardening Know How

Cattails Photo Courtesy of Gardening Know How

Plantain (Plantago major)- this well-known garden weed works as a spinach substitute in salads or cooked. It’s best to use the young leaves, as the bigger and older leaves tend to get leathery but are still edible. The seeds that form on the flower spikes can also be eaten.

Plantain (Plantago major) Photo Courtesy of Herbalism

Plantain (Plantago major) Photo Courtesy of Herbalism

Kudzu- if you know anything about this plant, it’s probably that it’s the “vine that ate the South”. But, you can actually eat the leaves, flowers, and roots. The vine part of the plant is not edible, though. Leaves can be used like spinach and can even be deep fried. Flowers work well for jelly recipes and the roots have protein, iron, and fiber in them and can be ground down to a powder. This plant does look like poison ivy so make sure you know the difference before you chomp down on a leaf. While this has not taken over everything in our area, you can find it anywhere in the South and in a couple of small patches in Oregon.

Kudzu Photo Courtesy of Extension Daily

Kudzu Photo Courtesy of Extension Daily

Fiddlehead Ferns- Fiddleheads are the unfurled new leaves of a fern and there are a handful of species that are edible. They must be cooked and can be sautéed, added to stir fries, or steamed and boiled.

Fiddlhead Ferns Photo Courtesy of The Spruce

Fiddlhead Ferns Photo Courtesy of The Spruce

If you’ve ever watched Chopped on the Food Network, you’ll know how many different ways unusual foods can be used. They have even featured plants like fiddlehead ferns and dandelion greens in their basket ingredients. And if they can do it, you can too, right?!

Have you tried any of these uncommon edible plants? How’d they taste? Let us know in the comments!

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