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Free Organic Super Veggies: Dandelions and Nettles

 

When spring comes, the greens in the grocery store look unappealing compared to the ones growing out on our lawn — our own spring vegetables, organic, local, home-grown, and super healthy.  And they are ready to eat before the garden is even planted!

 

Yes, you guessed it, we weed (our lawn and garden) and feed (ourselves)!  It’s one way to get fresh food, teach our children, be outside, build health, and save money all at the same time.

 

 At least once or twice each spring we eat dandelion leaves.  We’ve tried them in salad, but they are quite bitter unless we get them before they even think of flowering.  In chicken soup with ginger and garlic, they are wonderful.  I especially like them in a meaty stir-fry on pasta, but there are many other recipes available, such as jellies, salads, blossom fritters, and wine.    Much later in the season, we enjoy the special leafy dandelions we plant in our garden, but in spring, the wild ones are a real treat.

 

This spring we tried stinging nettles by themselves, like spinach.  They had a peculiar taste, and we did not enjoy them that way.  Nettles are much better added in small quantities to a soup or a stew, or substituted for cooked greens in any favourite recipe.  Later in the season the leaves get tough, but in spring they are tender and full of health.  Of course, I wear rubber gloves to pick, wash, and prepare them, but once they have been boiled the sting disappears.

 

Fiddleheads are one wild food we want to try for the first time this year.   We have watched them growing for several years, and the thought of eating them was often in the back of my mind.  I have looked at fiddleheads in the grocery store, but they are so terribly expensive and often not totally fresh.  The children are not wildly enthusiastic at the prospect, though.

 

We own a lovely book, Edible Wild Plants, which lists all sorts of wild foods.  The link has a preview of the book, and the nettles are on page 78 and 79.  Dandelions are not in the preview.   We only try edible plants with no poisonous look-alikes, and we only try one new plant every year or two, so that we can be sure exactly what we are doing.  Finding free organic super vegetables is a learning-at-home adventure that makes perfect sense these days.

 

Of course, you should not eat plants that have been sprayed, and you should only eat wild plants you can positively identify as edible.  Most libraries will have a book on the topic; if you are really interested, an edible plant book will pay for itself within a few meals.

 

Now I’m off to make a nettle and onion omelette for breakfast!

 

See you on Thursday when I’ll be telling you how our plans are shaping up for grade 11 and 12 Bible and Religious Studies.  If we can figure out how to put photos on the blog, I’d love to show you our latest gardening project sometime as well.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Canadagirl says:

    This way of harvesting spring veggies is a art my MIL has mastered. She picked a salad of MANY things and dandilion greens was for sure one of them. I have eaten cooked stinging nettle too. I have to admit they are not my favorite but they are soooooooo good for you ! Thanks for sharing this and I really hope you share how your fiddle head feast goes.

    Blessings In Him<><

    -Mary

  2. LarabaK says:

    I am SO impressed. I should try dandelions because we have thousands! A few years ago, I read that the cancer rate in children is higher when herbicides were sprayed on the lawn. That was enough to convince my dh to no longer do that. Our yard doesn't look fabulous all the time, but I don't care. Actually, our kids love the look of the dandelions and don't look upon them as weeds. I haven't seriously considered eating them but maybe will give them a try soon.

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