There are many great flavours which can be borrowed from the wild. The habit of using edible wild plants dates back thousands of years. Adding wild plants to your food can be a nice way to enhance it with new textures and colours—wild edibles are used in salads, as garnish for desserts or as decoration on starters, appetisers, cakes and many other dishes. Various edible wild flowers can be incorporated creatively into homemade lollipops, ice creams, gelatin desserts, floral syrups. Depending on the plant, the flavour palate can be richer and much more delicious.
The perks of wild plant foraging are innumerable. You can go out with a basket and gather a great heap of fresh and healthy in season plants. And the best thing is that they are absolutely free. Besides, their nutritional content is higher in comparison to store bought plants. They are literally full of beneficial substances that are good for your health. It is estimated that people who consume naturally grown wild plants digest the food more easily.
The great impulse to this increased interest in wild edibles is also caused by our need for deeper connection to nature. It’s incredible to see your food in its natural environment before you eat it. This is a powerful way to build strong relationships with wild edible plants. Shortening the distance between man and nature brings great meaning to life. It’s essential that we foster our connection with nature and this is definitely one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves.
We challenge you to take a look at our list of five edible wild plants and try to find them. They are easy to harvest and to incorporate into your diet, giving your food fresh and exquisite taste.
Angelica – Versatile Culinary Herb with Lovely Aroma
The herb Angelica is a real treasure of nature, prized for centuries for its high nutrient value. The entire plant is edible and its root, seeds, leaves, flowers and stem can be added to all sorts of dishes. Every part of the plant can be used for medicinal purposes as well.
Identifying and Harvesting Angelica
Angelica is easily recognizable by its lacy white flowers that grow in bunches. They have bitter-sweet flavour with pungent musky scent and their colour can vary from yellowish to greenish. The stem reaches six feet in height and it’s hollow from inside. The serrated leaves are divided into several sections. You can find the herb in semi-shady locations with continuous running water and damp soil. The stems are harvested between April and May; the leaves between May and June while the roots are gathered in late fall.
How to Eat Angelica
Add Angelica’s tender leaves to salads or use them as a garnish for meat. When boiled they are similar to spinach. You can dry the leaves and use them as a flavoring for squash, pumpkin, potato or prepare with them aromatic teas. The bitterish seeds are used to flavor cakes, candies, liqueurs and other beverages. Prepare Candied Angelica from the boiled stems or just blanch then and use as a garnish for baked fish.
Benefits of Eating Angelica
Angelica is also used as a herbal remedy to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices, which facilitate food absorption. It has the added benefit of detoxing your body and helps in keeping diseases at bay. Thanks to its high vitamin content, angelica is recommended in the treatment of various skin problems.
Chickweed – Fantastic Addition to Salads
Chickweed is a common wild edible weed, regarded as one of nature’s top superfoods. This low growing annual with numerous healing properties, has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes.
Identifying and Harvesting Chickweed
This low-growing green annual has white, star-shaped flowers and succulent, egg-shaped leaves. Flowers begin to bloom in March and continue till late autumn. The seeds are stored in capsules which stay closed in wet weather. In cool conditions Chickweed forms dense mats and can thrive all year long. It is a common weed in fields, coastal location, meadows and foothills. Collect the whole plant between May and July, cook it straightaway or dry it.
How to Eat Chickweed
The entire plant can be consumed and it is used both fresh and dried. It has a nice fresh taste that resembles the flavor of corn silk. Chickweed leaves can be eaten raw in a salad. When boiled, the young leaves look like spinach. The stems can be steamed or blended into delicious green smoothie. Both leaves and stems go well in soups or egg dishes. They can be used as substitutes for spinach and lettuce. Even the tiny blossoms and seeds can be sprinkled on salads or turned into a decoration for cupcakes, cookies and candy.
Benefits of Eating Chickweed
Chickweed is a healthy vitamin bomb, high in potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, antioxidants and beta-carotene. It is used in the treatment of skin problems, blood disorders, obesity. Chickweed stimulates the metabolism and the digestive system, accelerating weight loss naturally. Its infusion remove toxins from the body and boosts vital energy.
Wild Bergamot – Adds an Extra Splash of Colour to Your Meals
Wild bergamot’s foliage has a characteristic aroma that attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. This lovely violet edible plant is often cited for its historical medicinal applications. Apart from being a wonderful addition to salads, its leaves have been used as a natural insect repellents.
Identifying and Harvesting Wild Bergamot
Its height ranges from 11 to 27 inches and the colour of its blossoms range from purple to pink. The most distinctive part in this perennial plant is its aromatic foliage. Wild bergamot’s leaves are up to 4 inches long and usually they are coarsely toothed and hairy underneath. Its tubular flowers grow in dense heads and they have long summer bloom period. It grows in moist to moderately dry locations, as well as at moderate mountain elevations. Harvest leaves and flowers between June and July, when they are in bloom.
How to Eat Wild Bergamot
The whole plant that is above the ground is edible. It’s used as a garnish in salads, for flavoring meats and cooked foods. Wild bergamot tastes like citrus fruit. Its flowers, more specifically, have a minty flavour. The blossoms can be successfully used as a substitute for oregano. The fresh or dried leaves can be used as a refreshing tea. They can be mixed with basil and turned into delicious pesto. Both leaves and flower petals can be used in regular and fruit salads.
Benefits of Eating Wild Bergamot
Wild bergamot is commonly brewed into an aromatic medicinal tea to cure colds. It’s a natural source of the powerful antiseptic thymol. Thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial action, it reduces the pain and inflammation of mouth and throat sores caused by caries and gingivitis. Wild bergamot successfully treats digestive disorders. Besides, its oil is high in antioxidants that keep cells healthy and youthful.
Wild Violets – Wonderful Decoration for Cakes, Pastries and Desserts
Wild violets are often regarded as a weed; however, they should be viewed as useful plants that you can eat. They can turn into an effective decoration for home-made desserts, salads and dishes.
Identifying and Harvesting Wild Violets
Wild violets grow in clumps, reaching a height of 4 to 6 inches. They have heart-shaped leaves and delicate flowers that appear in various shades of purple and white. They are most commonly found in places with partial sun or partial shade, such as wooded areas and lawns. Wild violets can be collected form May to June.
How to Eat Wild Violets
Its petals are most often used for garnishing and crystallizing and they have a pleasant sweet flavour. Wild Violets are used in salads, to decorate cakes, sandwiches, soups, desserts or drinks. To add a festive touch to beverages, freeze them inside ice cubes. Violet flowers are a great addition to syrups, vinegars, tea, jellies, or surprise your children with beautiful candied violets. Put violet leaves in your spring salad or cook them.
Benefits of Eating Wild Violets
Wild violets are a wonderful source of vitamins A and C. They strengthen the immune system and are known to have antiseptic properties. Violets reduce inflammation and soothe sore throats, sinus infections and colds. These medicinal properties are attributed to the salicylic acid, which is contained in the flowers. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient of aspirin and it’s also used to treat many skin disorders.
Yarrow – valuable medicinal herb
Yarrow is a perennial herb with versatile application. Besides being a go-to herbs for children, yarrow has culinary and ornamental uses.
Identifying and Harvesting Yarrow
When in bloom it can easily be recognized by its small clusters of white flowers and its long, feathery foliage. It’s a hardy plant that grows in a range of habitats. Yarrow prefers temperate climates and it’s often encountered in pastures, hedgerows, grassy places. Harvest the flower heads from July to September, when they are in full bloom. Collect the leaves in the spring while they are still fresh and young. For magical use, harvest the herb on Midsummer’s day.
How to Eat Yarrow
Both leaves and flowering tops can be used in the kitchen. The young leaves and flowers can be added to salads, desserts, stews and soups. The fresh herb is used in tea infusions and juices. Yarrow has sweet, slightly bitter taste. Only the young leaves can be eaten raw.
Benefits of Eating Yarrow
Yarrow contains many chemicals with anti-inflammatory effects. Volatile oil and salicylic acid soothe fever, common cold and different kinds of injuries. The fresh leaves can be chewed in order to relieve toothache.