Common Edibles in Your Back Yard!
Notice: Please do your own research before consuming any wild plants. I am writing on this subject based on my own experience. But please do not take my articles as dietary or medical advice. Seek multiple trusted sources before touching, picking, or eating anything in the wild. Some wild edibles can be dangerous if not properly identified.
There are a few particular wild edibles which grow well in many yards across America. These particular plants are usually pretty easy to identify. And although most people see them every day, they view them as just another weed growing among the grass. Following is a review of the top 3 edible plants which I have seen grow in multiple states here in the US. I have harvested these same plants in Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and California. Or at least a variation of these or similar species. I will not be sharing specific health information here. I am not qualified to do so. But I can say from experience that I consume these plants often.
The common dandelion grows just about everywhere in the US. This plant, which many consider a nuisance, has colonized just about every yard in America. But it isn't just a simple weed to some of us. For some of us who are into foraging and nature skills, it is a valuable source of food and medicine.
The entire thing is edible. From the root, to the leaves, to the flower itself, the dandelion can be consumed. It can be eaten raw. Although it is advisable to cook the stem, leaves and flower in a few changes of boiled water to eliminate some of the bitterness that it tends to possess. As with many wild plants, the younger it is harvested, the less bitter it will be. The leaves can even be mixed into a salad without cooking as long as they are harvested from a very young plant.
The flowering head itself can be battered and fried. When eaten while still warm, the taste can resemble that of a battered mushroom.
The root can be cleaned, washed, roasted, and then ground to make a perfect coffee substitute. I made a video demonstrating this HERE. Also, one can just simply dry the root and rest of the plant out, then grind it up to make a tea. The tea will be a little bitter. But it is extremely good for you. Especially if you are trying to detox.A little bit of honey or molasses can be used to offset the bitterness.
Once the plant starts to seed out, the taste will be very bitter. I suggest at this point to only harvest the plant for the sake of roasting the roots. You can make "coffee" all summer long with it.
Warning: if you find yourself in a survival situation and are operating on an empty stomach, do not eat just dandelion. It can have a laxative effect. You don't want to be dumping (literally) calories and potentially dehydrating yourself.
The white clover tends to grow abundantly among grass. I don't know if there is any mutual benefit between these two. But this clover plant is almost always found growing in grassy fields and yards.
The whole plant is edible. The flavor of the stems and leaves remind me kind of a type of leafy green in flavor. Although the taste is a little dull. Not bad. Just dull. As far as bitterness, these are much more palatable than the previously mentioned dandelions.
The flowering head can have a sweet flavor to it if it is held in the mouth. I like to gather a nice handful and place them in my cheek. After some time, a slight sweetness is evident. This is the nectar being released from the flower.
The flowering heads can also be dried and used to make tea. The flavor is not very strong, but not too bad. I tend to add other plants to my clover tea for increased health benefits and taste.
There could be some drawbacks to this plant for certain people. I have heard that those with hypertension should not eat too much of it. Apparently, large amounts can affect the blood by acting as a thinner. Again, I am not a medical professional or trained herbalist. But thought I would pass that along.
The plantain (no relation to the banana's cousin) comes in different varieties. The 2 most common are the broad leafed plantain, pictured above, and the narrow leaf, or lance leaf plantain. The plant is easy to identify by the pronounced veins extending from the stem through the leaf.
This plant can be eaten raw, cooked, and even made into a delicious snack resembling kale chips. I've posted a video on how to make Plantain 'Chips' HERE.
Another use for the leaf, is to either chew it, or crush it with a little water to make a poultice. When growing up, we often did this and applied it to a fresh bee sting. I am no chemist. But whatever is in this leaf took the pain almost completely away instantly.
So there you have it. 3 of the most common wild edibles that most people don't know are there. These plants often share the same environment with grass, and are all 3 easily found in a yard. They are not just weeds, even though many people go out of their way to eradicate them. Give it a try. Safety tips first though: If you are going to eat any wild plant, firstly, make sure it is identified properly. Secondly, don't eat anything that has been sprayed by harmful lawn chemicals.
Maybe I will come back to update this with more info when I get time. Later, homeslices!
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