A guide to edible weeds

The list of weeds you can eat is far longer than one might imagine, see below for a taster of some surprisingly delicious ones.

1. Horseradish

Horseradish plants produce a wonderfully strong root that is grated to make horseradish sauce – the perfect accompaniment to roast beef. Remember, the fresher the root, the hotter your sauce will be.

2. Stinging Nettles

Everyone has memories of this hurtful weed stinging them below the knee as a child, but revisit the positive attributes of the nettle by making a delicious soup with the leaves in much the same way as one would a spinach soup. Like spinach, it also offers up tonnes of iron.

3. Nasturtium

Often not considered a weed, these beautiful flowers are edible in its entirety and make a lovely spicy addition to salads with the real wow factor.

4. Chickweed

Chickweed is a small edible weed, which produces white, star-shaped flowers found most often in lawns. It tastes a bit like spinach and therefore can be used in salads, sandwiches or soups plus is packed with nutrients such as magnesium and potassium.

5. Purslane

Packed with omega-3, purslane has smooth, oar-shaped leaves. It tastes mild and lemony so is great with seafood or Asian food.

6. Lamb’s Quarters

This plant sometimes looks dusty as it has a white powdery residue on the leaves, which makes it easy to recognise. Often referred to as wild spinach lamb’s quarters contain oxalic acid which we mustn’t eat much of so it’s suggested you cook it before eating which removes it. Great mixed with ricotta in ravioli or used as you might chard or kale.

7. Sheep’s Sorrel

Recognised by its green arrowhead-shaped leaves, sorrel also has oxalic acid so follow the above advice for its removal, but this plant has a slightly sour taste so is great alongside fattier meats such as lamb and pork.

8. Duckweed

Worthy of a mention, this aquatic perennial is found on top of ponds and is very high in protein so, when dried, makes a vegan-friendly powder called Lenten. With a 68% protein level, this new environmentally-friendly food source offers huge potential as an edible annual weed.

9. Dandelion & Burdock

These are both perennial weeds that you can find all year round. Be cautious that you have the right weed however as burdock can appear similar to some more dangerous weeds. To be on the safe side always forage when flowering. These weeds can be used to make the famous drink you may have heard of called dandelion and burdock root. This drink is a great source of vitamins and has been known to be a tasty alternative to beer.

It’s time to re-evaluate the dreaded weeds as valuable foods that have the ability to provide us with fantastic nutrients. Don’t overlook these edible vegetables, especially as they are so easily grown and foraged on our doorsteps.

So next time your heart sinks at the thought of a big weeding job, think twice about what you’re taking out of the ground and consider whether it deserves a place on your table.

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