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How To Turn Your Weeds Into Salad

August 13th, 2010 · No Comments · Garden Plants, Gardening News

Detail of flowering stinging nettle.
Image via Wikipedia

I found this article by Margaret Lauterbach with the intriguing title “When life gives you weeds, make a salad” and it reminded me of a book I bought many years ago called “How to enjoy your weeds”. For most gardeners weeds are a nuisance that require constant attention if we are to keep our beds and borders free of them. Of course you can keep most weeds at bay with a generous layer of mulch, but even this will not suppress bindweed which is my pet hate. But this is straying from the theme of her article which is in effect “if you can’t beat them, learn to make use of them”.

The article lists five common weeds that you can include in a salad. Dandelion is top of her list, a plant that is rich in vitamins and minerals, but is too bitter for my taste.

Purslane is one that I have not eaten myself, but is apparently nutritionally rich, containing more omega-3 fatty acids than some fish oils. Purslane is also a very good source of Vitamins A, C, some B complex vitamins, and dietary minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, and others. It’s usually added to salads.

The article describes how Sonchus (sowthistle) is eaten in New Zealand, but history records that it was used as a salad herb by the Romans. More recently the herbalist Culpeper suggested its use as a cosmetic that “is wonderful good for women to wash their faces with, to clear the skin and give it lustre”.

One common weed that is not included in the article is the stinging-nettle. As a source of iron it beats spinach and also contains vitamin C. While nettle eating contests prove that you can eat it raw, most recipes involve cooking in some way. The book I mentioned earlier on “How to enjoy your weeds” has recipes for nettle soup, creamed nettles and nettle porridge and also instructions for making nettle wine and nettle beer. Read more..

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