1993 - Volume #17, Issue #5, Page #33[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Weed made into foodWeeds aren't all that bad to eat, especially if they're been properly cooked, according to a recent report by Susan Haldane in Ontario Farmer about a rural Canadian woman who has been harvesting and cooking weeds for 15 years.
Sher Leetooze says weeds can make tasty additions to the dinner table. She regularly goes out on foraging trips, bringing home everything from dandelions to burdock.
It's well known that dandelions can be used to make wine and the young leaves used as salad greens but Leetooze says the roots can also be dried and ground up for flour or used as a coffee substitute. The flowers can be dipped in a batter and deep-fried. So can flowers from red clover, chickory, Scotch thistle, and burdock.
Other plants, like smartweed and plantain, can be used in salads. Plantain roots can also be ground up for flower and the mature seeds can be sprinkled on muffins or cookie batter the way poppy seeds might be used. Sowthistle leaves may look spiny, but those spines melt away when the leaves are boiled.
Cattails are another versatile plant. Be-fore the seed heads turn brown, they can be cut, boiled, rolled in butter, and eaten like corn on the cob. The stems below water level make a tasty cooked vegetable.
Red berry clusters on staghorn sumac are lemony-flavored when eaten raw or make a good jelly with a pleasant bite.
Leetooze cautions that anyone planning to make a meal of weeds should take care to learn to identify all plants before digging in. Many can cause upset stomachs or other ailments and a few are poisonous. Queen Anne's Lace, for example, is poisonous, while the attractive berries of deadly night-shade could kill a child. Buttercups are poisonous, too, and enzymes on the stems and leaves can cause skin problems.
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