WISDOM FROM THE WILD CHILD GARDEN: May 2022: EDIBLE FLOWERS & WEEDS: PART II:
Using Edible Flowers: Beverages: There are many ways to enjoy edible flowers in beverages. Herbal beverages include sun tea, herbal tea, herbal cordials, herbal wines, herbal kombucha, and herbal lemonade.
Don’t forget to freeze some of those lovely blooms in ice cubes to adorn these flowery beverages!
Sun Tea Recipe: This recipe makes 1 quart.
Ingredients: 1 cup red clover blossoms, 1 cup red raspberry leaf, ½ cup hibiscus flowers, and ½ cup dried orange peel.
Mix the herbs and store in an airtight container.
Add ½ to 1 cup of the blend to a 1-quart mason jar.
Pour the water over the herbs.
Let sit in the sun all day.
Strain & enjoy!
This tea lasts 2-3 days if refrigerated.
Using Edible Flowers: Desserts: Edible flowers are happy to join in on baking endeavors! Add the petals and blossoms to muffins, cookies, scones, cakes, and biscuits. Use edible flowers to make beautiful decorations on baked goods, too!
Popsicles, jellos, and ice creams also lend themselves well to flowery additions. Try using tea made from the flowers as a base for these treats and use the whole flowers to add visual appeal!
Baked Donuts Recipe: Baked Donuts: Ingredients: 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 table-spoon yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 stick butter, cut into 1” cubes. Directions: Beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended, then add the milk, yeast, salt and vanilla, and stir to blend. Add 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat on low until the dough is thick and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add the butter one piece at a time and beat on medium 3-5 minutes. Reduce speed and add flour until the dough gathers and is soft and moist. On a floured surface, knead gently until it is no longer sticky. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Punch down and roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut 3-inch rounds with 1-inch diameter holes. Preheat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the donuts and holes at least 1-inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size for 30 minutes. Bake 5 to 8 minutes, being careful not to over-bake.
Ginger Glaze: Ingredients: 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger. Directions: Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice and grated ginger. Make sure the glaze is thick, add more sugar if needed.
Dip the top half of the donut into the glaze, and while the glaze is still wet, add the edible flowers. Let the glaze set and enjoy!
Using Edible Flowers: Safety: There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you enjoy edible flowers safely:
Positive Identification: positive identification is crucial because not every flower is edible, and some are poisonous!
Know the Source: Enjoy flowers that have been wildcrafted or grown without pesticides and herbicides. Flowers from a florist or nursery are likely to be sprayed with harmful chemicals and are not fit for consumption.
Allergic Reactions: Watch out for allergic reactions which are possible when consuming edible flowers. Sensitive individuals should do a scratch test before eating any flowers that are new. Rub the flower on the side of the arm and then wait 24 hours. A reaction indicates potential allergic sensitivity, and that particular flower should be avoided!
Preparation: Some flowers need to have the stamens and pistils re-moved before consumption. Remember to remove the bitter white nib off the bottom of rose petals before they are eaten!
Edible Weeds: Spring greens tend to be bitter in flavor, and this bitter flavor stimulates digestive juices. Many spring greens stimulate the lymphatic system, promoting waste elimination through the skin, kidneys, liver, and lungs. Spring greens are nutrient-dense and eating them daily can help cleanse and lighten the system after a winter fare focused on heavier foods.
Eating edible weeds is an easy way to increase the garden’s productivity. While everyone loves to bring in the harvest, weeding is the least favorite part of gardening. What if weeding could be harvesting? Basic garden maintenance becomes more like a scavenger hunt when edible weeds are found, and that makes the exercise a lot more fun, not to mention tasty.
Burdock (Arctium lappa): is an edible weed and every part is tasty. It’s actually cultivated as a vegetable in Asian cultures where it’s called gobo. The root is often used in curries or roasted like any other root vegetable. The flower stalks are also edible, and the creamy centers taste like freshly steamed artichokes.
The leaves are edible too and are great for wrapping dishes cooked in the campfire.
Burdock has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory proprieties. It also has anti-cancer properties similar to that of broccoli and cabbage. Burdock is also a diuretic, and the roots have laxative effects.
Chickweed (Stellaria media): is a nutritional powerhouse, providing vitamins C, A, D, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, sodium, copper and silica. An infusion of the above-ground parts is used as a safe, gentle diuretic, and the chopped plant can be applied topically to various skin sores and irritations.
The whole plant, except the roots, is delicious. Eaten raw, it tastes like corn-on-the-cob, and cooked, it's more like spinach. Always chop the entire plant, except the roots, into bite-sized pieces before using it.
Chickweed is an excellent salad vegetable and pot herb and is also great on sandwiches. Use it like sprouts, with hummus in pita bread, steamed, added to soups, stews and casseroles, and sautéed. It cooks in about 5 minutes, so take care not to overcook it.
Cleavers (Galium aparine): has long been used as a valuable lymphatic tonic and diuretic. Its cleansing action washes the tissues of toxins and passes them back into the bloodstream to be cleansed by the liver and kidneys. This cleansing action makes cleavers useful in treating psoriasis, arthritis, gravel and urinary stones, urinary infections, and high blood pressure.
In addition to its many medicinal virtues, cleavers can be eaten as a salad green. Only consume young leaves as once the plant matures and the hooks develop, it becomes unpleasant to eat. The seeds can be roasted and used to make a roasted-seed beverage used as a coffee substitute.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): this common plant is versatile and nutritious. It contains iron, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin A.
One of the first plants of spring, Dandelion leaves are gathered and added in salads. It’s a good idea to only use the young smaller leaves because the older and larger they get, they more bitter they become.
Dandelion leaves can be added to other greens to make pestos, and the dry root can be used in decoctions or bitters.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata): Though it’s considered one of the worst invasive weeds, garlic mustard happens to be really tasty. The name gives you an idea of the taste, a bit garlic-y, a bit mustard-y, and basically green and mildly spicy. Used sparingly, it makes a good salad green, it can be cooked, and it can be used as a seasoning.
Garlic mustard greens are very nutritious. They contain vitamins A, C, E and B, minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids. Garlic Mustard is used for medicinal purposes, including weight control, heart health, lowering cholesterol, and strengthening the immune system.
The leaves can be eaten in any season, however, once the weather gets hot, they will taste bitter. Flowers can be chopped and tossed into salads. The roots can be collected in early spring and again in late fall, when no flower stalks are present.
Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica): the edible parts include leaves, shoots, and rhizomes. Japanese knotweed can be used as a substitute for rhubarb or asparagus. It has an acid flavor that makes it great for pies, fruit soups, and jams.
The root has medicinal properties that make it a good choice for the treatment of burn injuries, boils and abscesses, poisonous snakebites, acute hepatitis, appendicitis, traumatic injuries and menstrual irregularities. The leaves can be crushed and applied externally as a poultice, and the dried roots can be ground into a powder.
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis): One of the best natural remedies for bug bites and poison ivy, jewelweed is handy to have around. It is also edible, and the seed pods taste a lot like walnuts. Harvest carefully because they’re built to pop when touched, sending the seeds flying in all directions.
Jewelweed is used as a medicinal herb as an external application for wounds and a range of skin complaints. An infusion of jewelweed can be used in the treatment of fevers, difficult urination, measles, stomach cramps, and jaundice. The juice of the leaves is used externally in the treatment of piles, fungal dermatitis, nettle stings, poison ivy rash, and burns. The sap is used to remove warts. A poultice of the leaves is ap-plied to bruises, burns, and cuts.
The succulent stems, whilst still young and tender, can be cut up and cooked like green beans.
Nettles (Urtica dioica): is packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, & D, calcium, iron, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. It also contains an abundance of chlorophyll, which is responsible for much of its color and high mineral content.
Harvest unblemished leaves that are less than 18”. Wear gloves to pre-vent stings. Nettle is a nutrition powerhouse that can be used in teas, soups, barley broth, pasta, quiches, and pestos. Note: Nettle leaves should be blanched prior to adding them to a pesto and then blended to remove the sting.