Edible weeds - Chickweed

Weed until you are full! A wild idea?

We all love to hate the myriad of wild weeds that grow on our allotment plots and in our gardens, stealing valuable nutrients and crowding and smothering our prize vegetables. But did you know that many of these little invaders can in fact, be used to line our precious stomachs?

Since early childhood, we have all been told not to eat red berries, weeds or any plant that grows in the garden, wild or tame (apart from vegetables of course). I’m not going to criticise our parents for this; after all, in many ways this is sound advice. Some of the plants that grow in both our gardens and in the wild are poisonous, some deadly. It’s worth researching what we can and can’t eat before filling our salad baskets.

Culinary Weeds

I have compiled the following list of common edible weeds (as found in the wild and on our allotments) as a very rough guide to what you can eat and their basic culinary uses.

  • Bittercress (Hairy) – eat all any part of the plant as you would cress – sweet peppery taste.
  • Brambles – not only can you eat the fruits (Blackberries), but also the young leaves. Add to a salad or cook.
  • Chickweed – taste a little bit like lettuce. Eat as a salad.
  • Comfrey – tastes like cucumber, eat in salads or boil like spinach
  • Dandelion – leaves can be eaten as a salad, or like spinach. You can also eat the cooked root.
  • Red/White Dead-Nettle – Young leaves are good, cooked in butter.
  • Fat Hen – Whole plant can be eaten as a salad or cooked as a spinach.
  • Goosegrass (Cleavers) – Boil as a spinach. Avoid hard seeds, which can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
  • Ground Elder – cooked as spinach – aromatic flavour.
  • Hawthorn – young leaves can be used in salads. Berries can be used in desserts, eaten as biscuits, or even as jam. Extremely good for the heart.
  • Jack by the hedge (Garlic Mustard) – eaten as a salad or added to flavour sauces. The only plant outside of the onion family to taste similar to garlic.
  • Nettles – When washed, can be cooked and eaten as spinach – makes a great soup!
  • Silverweed – The root can be roasted or eaten raw. A bit like the taste of parsnip.
  • Sorrel (common) – Leaves can be cooked or added to salads.
  • Violet (sweet) – Flowers and leaves can be added to a salad for flavouring.
  • Yarrow – Can be added to salads or cooked as spinach – remove stringy stems first.

This is only a fraction of what is available. Bon Appétit!

Important Disclaimer – Please read:

To be on the safe side, please double check with other sources before trying any of the plants in the above list. I will not be responsible for any misdiagnosis on your part or inaccuracies on my part. Although I have taken care to research this subject, you eat the above at your own risk.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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