Every spring when the first greens get out from under the winter coat, we go to the fields and collect them. Wild leafy greens have a great nutritional value that your body desperately needs after a long, cold winter. Keep reading and I will share 5 edible spring plants that you can find right under your feet.
From a young age, my mother taught me all about the edible wild plants, growing right in our backyard. I learned about amazingly delicious food growing in the wild, how to farage it and where to use it. When my sisters and I were little we would go to the forest as if it was our garden and collect plants for salads, seasoning and even medicinal purposes. The best part about wild plants – it’s free, organic and easy to find, so you don’t have an excuse not to try it.
Naturally, it became so usual for me to forage and eat wild plants, that I make an effort to do it every time I can. I taught my friends these tricks and “secrets” and eating wild leafy greens became a habit for them too! Incorporating more plant-based, not only wild, foods in your diet has loads of benefits for your health. We recently posted about a plant-based diet ago and you can read it here if you are interested.
But for now, let’s talk with those edible plants I want to share with you. Foraging is easy and costs you nothing. You simply need to memorize the appearance of plants, know what they are good for and take the time to do go foraging. Soon enough you will be doing it effortlessly – after all it is in our genes.
Dandelions ( lot. Taraxacum agg.)
Dandelion is a very common, easily recognizable plant, therefore they are very easy to find and forage. It has toothed leaves and that’s why they have the name ‘Dent de Lyon’ – which literally translates to “tooth of the lion”. Dandelions can be bitter, so it’s best to pick them young when the taste is not as intense.
Dandelions are very nutritious – they are rich in Vitamin A, C, K and many more. It’s great to mix them into your morning smoothie or you can add them to your salads if you don’t mind the bitterness.
Ground elder. (lot. Aegopodium)
Ground elder is mostly known and recognized by gardeners – it is an invasive weed. Only a few people know, that this plant is actually edible and tasty! You should pick ground elder while it is still young and their leaves are still unfolded. At this stage, it has a glossy green color, which will help you to spot and pick them. Try to cut them as low as possible, because the most nutritious part of this plant is its stem.
Ground elder is rich in Vitamin C and has strong antioxidant properties. You can either cook them or eat raw. It has a lovely juicy flavor.
Wild Chervil (lot. Anthriscus)
Wild Chervil also know as Cow parsley is found covering wide areas wherever people have not worked on the land. It looks similar to carrot leaves and that’s the first thing people notice and remember when I show them these plants.
!But be cautious! Cow’s parsley looks very similar to a lot of other plants. The most worrying are: Fool’s Parsley, which is poisonous, and Hemlock which is deadly. Be sure you pick the right one There are a couple of ways to tell them apart – hemlock is a little darker and has a glossy sheen, while the cow parsley is matte and is a different shade. You can read more about their differences here.!
Cow’s parsley helps to control depression and anxiety, has parsley have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-epileptic, antiviral and fungistat properties, and is even believed to help f fight infertility! Young leaves taste much milder and are a great addition to the salads, it can also be used as a seasoning. I prefer to pick it as soon as it grows in the spring.
Stinging Nettle (lot. Urtica dioica)
The Stinging Nettle is unlikely to be a stranger to anyone who has ever set foot in the countryside in Europe. It is also one of the most important leafy wild foods – stinging nettle is a vitamin and mineral-rich food source, which contains a surprising amount of protein.
Traditionally, nettles were dried and fed to livestock throughout the winter. What is more, for hundreds of years it has been used to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia (yes, it has a lot of iron). This superfood is a great addition to your smoothies, soups and stews, and you can make a very pleasant tea from nettles leaves.
There are special folding techniques to eat nettles raw but I don’t recommend it unless you were taught to do it by someone in person. It’s much safer and easier for most of us to just bald the leaves to soften the hypodermic, histamine-injecting hairs. Only then should you add it to your food!
It’s best to harvest the young etops of the plant and its branches because the stems are thought and hard to pick. But please, use gloves for picking them!
Sorrel (lot. Rumex family)
Sorrel looks a little bit like spinach. But it has a very distinct tart, lemony flavor and once you taste it, you won’t mix it up with another plant. It is a great source of vitamin C and iron. Sorrel goes well into soups, smoothies, salads and even juices. The unique taste of sorrel will transform your food!
Hope you learned a bit from this post! Happy foraging and please let us know what are your favorite wild plants!