The Seven Best Wild Herbs to Forage
Seven Best Edible Flowers
Foraging for wild herbs has become somewhat of a trend – but while everyone is hunting for wild garlic, nature also holds other treasures, less trendy maybe but just as delicious. Here are several of the best.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
This modest little plant, often considered a weed, is to be found almost year-round, from spring to autumn, Chickweed loves meadows and verges, contains small amounts of vitamin C and zinc as well as essential oils. With a taste reminiscent of corn cob and pea shoots and a touch of nuttiness, it makes a perfect addition to your freshly dressed garden salad.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Despite their tingly reputation, nettles are super healthy: brimming with minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as vitamins A, C and K, they are nature’s abundant superfood. While nettle tea is well-known for its many health benefits, fresh, young nettle leaves are wonderful to eat. But won’t it sting? No, if you blanch them before use they will use their sting and they can be used like spinach: in risottos, is pesto, in your smoothie, or just sauteed with butter.
Dandelion is often considered a noxious weed, despite its cheerful yellow flowers. But both flowers and leaves can be used in the kitchen. The leaves in particular carry a slight bitterness which adds interest to your summer salad. You can also turn the bright, yellow flowers into a delicious cordial or go one step further and surprise your garden party guests with dandelion ice cream.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
As the name reveals, watercress prefers proximity to water and can easily be picked near clear, unpolluted streams. Pungent in flavour, watercress is the ideal condiment for succulent grilled steaks and works well in cheese sandwiches made with crusty brown bread. Watercress can also be turned into a beautiful, green-hued soup that is as delicious as it is healthy.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Human consumption of mugwort dates back 7000 years. Right after the first bloom is the ideal time to pick its leaves and flowers. They have a slightly bitter taste which goes exceedingly well with grilled chicken. When dried, mugwort is a traditional seasoning for roast goose where it helps to cut the richness of the meat. You will be surprised how commonly it grows by roadsides.
Plantain, both broadleaf and narrowleaf (Plantago major and lanceolata, respectively)
Again a modest, common little herb that is often considered an annoying weed. Its leaves with their grassy and slightly peppery taste can be used just like spinach leaves: when young and tender they can be eaten raw in salads, when mature, cooking them is best, so think soups or stir-fries.
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
Ground Ivy with its lovely, tiny flowers is a perennial weed that contains heaps of essentials oil and has subtle bitter notes. The leaves are an exquisite seasoning for oils. Even better, you can use them in vibrant pestos. The purple flowers are edible and taste delicious on a buttered slice of bread fresh out of the oven.