"wild" eating

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while making my lunch for work today, I went to the garden,, picked a few leaves from a lambs quarter, yes I have weeds in my garden, and some weeds I actually let grow on purpose. It got me to thinking, how do other eat "wild " foods? The lambs quarters I uses on sandwiches and such in place of lettuce, and even put some in a salad, though I dont eat alot fo them in the summer. Purslane is another that I eat. M father used to tell me stories, when he was 16 -18 he would work on a farm, not far from where we lived. (its all subdivisions now), they would pick prslane which grew in between rows and sell them at the farmers market. Sometimes they got more for the "weeds" then they got for the crop. So I let that weed grow also, its a very tender green. I took a seminar once on "wild eating", have the book around somewhere, but daylilies are another thing I like. Young shoots can be used like celery, flower petals are used to thicken soups/stews and the root tubers can be used just liker pearl taters or water chestnuts.

-- Stan (sopal@net-pert.com), June 27, 2002


Hi Stan, I, too, eat lambs quarter, and yes I purposely let them grow. I've never eaten purslane though I used to have a lot of it on farm land. I read somewhere that it was known as a laxative so I've just stayed away. Can you confirm that? I purchased a book from a library Friendshop last year that lists most edible wild plants for the state I live in. It tells what must be done in order for them to be safe to eat, such as boiling, dumping the water, boiling again, dumping the water, and then giving them a finish cooking. The reason for the extra boiling is to get rid of toxins. I'm not sure I want to eat something if it is filled with toxins. Anyway, yes I eat weeds. Mighty tasty too. The best part is that they are free.

-- Notforprint (Not@thekeyboard.com), June 27, 2002.

I've heard poke(early!) is prepared like that. I don't think I wanna try it though. I eat weeds as well, and flowers. It's always easier for me to hear about these things first hand as opposed to books, so I don't eat as many as I would like.

-- Patty (SycamoreHollow@aol.com), June 27, 2002.

Hey, Notforprint! Sounds like you are talking about poke with the repeated boilings. I've always had the same reaction that you have - do I really want to eat something that has that much toxin in it? That's about the only green that I know of that requires that much preparation, though.

I checked a few of my books and none mention purslane acting as a laxative although too much of any one thing could probably cause the same results. And I've also read that when introducing "wild" foods into your diet for the first time, it is best to go slow and increase your portion size over a period of time or it is possible to cause digestive discomfort. I think it is something your body has to get adjusted to maybe because these weeds are often very high in minerals and vitamins. Take purslane for instance. Comparing purslane to cabbage, the plants are almost equal in water content. But purslane has less calories, over twice the calcium, almost 10 times the iron, and almost 20 times the vitamin A.

I tried cleavers for the first time this year. It tasted very GREEN. I also like to eat puffball mushrooms (before the become puffballs) but have only found one so far that was in the eating stage.

-- Bren (wayoutfarm@skybest.com), June 27, 2002.

I eat polk and dandelion greens and dandelion wine.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), June 27, 2002.

I have just started to get interested in weeds as greens and would like to know more on how to identify the weeds that are ediable.

-- normajean (verdie@clover.net), March 25, 2003.

best advice,,, either find someone who knows about "weeds" in your area. Or get a good book, complete with pictures. hopefully spefic to your area

-- stan (sopal@net-pert.com), March 25, 2003.

When growing up, our family ate a lot of turnip greens, collards, and “lambs-quarter”. You may not be familiar with the latter but that was a frequent item on our menu. It is a weed that grows profusely along the bar-ditches in Haskell county and all of West Texas. During the depression years when we lived in Amherst and Sudan, Mother would provide two large metal buckets and send me to walk along the railroad right-of-way to fill the pails with “lambs- quarter”. It seemed to be one of our chief food sources in those days. Mother’s favorite “greens” was Polk-salad, also a weed. This plant was quite poisonous when not properly prepared--par boiled and drained before the final cooking with (when available) a sizeable hunk of salt pork . Daddy refused to eat it so I remember Mother telling him it was mustard and turnip green mix. When given the new identity, he also loved eating it.

-- Thomas D. Brown (tdbrown7@charter.net), April 18, 2003.

I eat the lambs quarters .polk ,stinging nettles. cow salad(local name) wild beet, (prime rose famliy) moth mullon, pig weed ,slick dock , and curly dock

-- Jack (jchipley@mcmsys.com), May 03, 2003.

As a kid and a teen, I spent lots of time hiking w/friends, exploring everywhere. When we'd go on a day-long like (or one that turned out to be day-long for various reasons), we'd snack on poke stalks regularly. They were softer when young but even older stalks were good when you are hungry. I'd heard all the scare stories but none of us ever got sick...and we ate a LOT of poke!!! There were lots of other plants that we ate but most of them were rather small, so we ate them for the flavor, not to eliminate hunger. Sour grass, sheep sorrel, pepper plant (that's what we called it...the developing seeds were spicey). I used to be really good at identifying native plants of the mid-Atlantic and mid-states regions, but I'm sure I've lost more than I've retained (haven't lived in those places in many years).


-- David (mmessages@yahoo.com), May 04, 2003.

I was just wondering if there is a special way to get rid of polk growing in the yard. Every summer the polk starts to grow and grow and grow. No matter what we do, we cannot seem to get rid of it. Do you have any answers?

-- Kathy (uofikat@aol.com), May 23, 2003.

if you start in the spring, and dig up the roots, it wont be long till they die, or at least more controlable. It takes awhile for any plant to recover form its roots being dug up

-- Stan (sopal@net-pert.com), May 23, 2003.

I just want to know if anybody knows how I can grow polk salad in my garden. Do you wait till the plants grow those little black berries and pick them off and plant them, or what? and when is the time to plant them: when they are fresh berries of dried, summer or fall? If anyone knows, please let me know. I want to grow some. It's my favorite food, besides asparagus.

-- william (william@pepperlink.net), May 29, 2003.

I keep reading about how people can eat dandelion's I'd like to know what parts can be eaten raw & cooked and how to cook them. (have tryed a tiny piece of the flower & found it bitter is that normal?)

Thanks J.S.

-- J.Salmonson (dollmaker@NOTFORSPAMBOTSusa.com), June 05, 2003.

ALL parts can be eaten, though some are better than others. And most are better when young. Can add leaves to your salad, flower stems can be eaten as spaghetti,, but, I dont like that part. Flowers amke GREAT wine, or jam. roots can be dried, ground and used as a coffee substitue.

get a good wild eating book, or such. Most people will tell you to start with adding leaves to a salad.

-- Stan (sopal@net-pert.com), June 05, 2003.

Stunbled on this site, never ran into it before. Re: purslane, used it in a potatoe salad couple weeks ago (I was out of celery & peppers), not bad. still prefer it basic as nibble. That means grab a handful of it on the way out to the car and just munch away. Speaking of poke, does anyine realize those "poisonous berries" are much like the rest of the plant, meaning both poisonous & non... It's the tiny black seeds that cause all the problem in the berries. if you strain the juice through a coffee filter, your okay. I made a fantastic jelly with it 2 years ago. Tastes like a cross between blackberry and elderberry. When I warmed the berries I was careful not to crush the seeds, so I gave it a gentle mash, then strained. Have some picked for that now. Plus when I threw the seeds away in the back yard I suddenly found myself with an abundance of poke plants. This year my new favorite recipe came from using the peppergrass cress aka poor man's pepper. I've used the seeds to season scrambled eggs for years. This year I par-boiled the greens then sauteed with scrambled eggs, topped with monteray jack cheese. The greens seem to have a milder flavor than the seeds. Can't seem to find lamb's quarters in this area (coastal carolina) so I'll make up for it with this.

-- kathy (raydray@hargray.com), August 25, 2003.

The best greens I ever found are chickweed greens. They're delicious raw or cooked, but you need a LOT if you cook them, because they cook down to much less than they were when raw. They grow all year(!) in the mid-atlantic region, but once the summer gets hot, they become much too dry and stringy to eat.

As far as wild veggies needing multiple cookings go, I've never tried poke. I read somewhere that even handling the raw roots produces cellular changes in the hands. That's too iffy for my taste.

However, I do love milkweed. You can eat the young pods, and the young (top) leaves. The shoots, too, but only if you are SURE you can tell them from dogbane, which is a poisonous look-alike. You have to cook milkweed in several (3-4) changes of water, and then taste them. If the bitter taste is gone, drain them, add butter and enjoy!

BTW, I'm a naturalist, although I no longer have a job in that field. I've taught programs on edible wild plants, and I founded the now defunct Earthskill Circle. Nice to see your site!

-- Sherna Comerford (shernamaureen@earthlink.net), March 10, 2004.

I really have more of a question than an answer. My mother is looking for a recipe for pickled canned polk stalks. If anyone could help it would be great!! I pick polk for my mom each year to put in the freezer and we fry the stalks after skinning them. It is a great dish at her house and me and my siblinings try to see who'll get to mom's house first!!!! For the one's who are wary of this weed, I have eaten it all mt life(48) and we have never gotton sick. We love it scrambled with eggs too!! Thanks

-- Marilynn Croft (chrkmnw@aol.com), April 13, 2004.

i like to eat stinging nettles, lambs quarter, and purslane; all common wild edible plants in my urban home of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I've also sauteed burdock root in butter, and a couple weeks ago i picked some mulberries and my friend made me a mulberry pie. Mulberries are more nutritious than blueberries: just a cup of them provides 80 percent of your daily vitamin C. I've noticed that many wild edibles are superior in nutrition value than grocery store produce.

-- brad justin (bjustin@cheerful.com), July 09, 2004.

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