Picture it, you’re out camping in the middle of the woods and you just finished your last s’more, but you’re definitely still hungry. There’s no refrigerator nearby, so you’re out of luck, right? Wrong! Nature is full of yummies as long as you know where to look and what to look for!
Before you rush outside now to eat the first plant you find, there are some important things that you need to be aware of. First of all, not all plants are edible and that even if a plant is edible, not all parts may be. Before you eat something, make 100% sure that you know what you are eating! Secondly, know that plants need to be prepared properly. Many plants are extremely bitter, due to molecules called Tannins. Plants that are heavy in tannins require boiling or blanching before eating in order to leach the molecules out. And thirdly, don’t be selfish! Many animals rely on plants as their main source of food. Do not remove all of a plant in one area. Leave some behind for other animals and so that it can continue to grow in future years!
REMEMBER: Be absolutely positive of what you are eating as some plants and plant parts may be toxic. To view a large list of over 50 plants that you can eat, click here!
If you don’t know where to start, here we have provided some yummy recipes for you to try out!
- 4c. Fresh picked dandelion flowers (get rid of the stems, but you can save the leaves to add to salads!) à Remember to wash them!
- 2c. flour
- 2c. milk
- 2 eggs
Mix the milk, flour and eggs and beat until well blended. Warm some olive oil in a skillet. Holding the underside of the flowers, dip them into the batter until totally covered in the batter. Place into skillet, flower side down. Once they’re brown, flip to brown the other side. Remove and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Eat plain or drizzle with your favorite condiment! Rolling them in powdered sugar or drizzling with maple syrup is always a good idea to turn them into a sweet treat!
Garlic Mustard Pesto (Modified from the original recipe. View the original here!)
- 3c. Garlic Mustard leaves (remember to wash and pat dry!)
- A drizzle of olive oil (add oil to texture preference)
- 1c. grated parmesan cheese
- Sprinkles of salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Spread over crackers for a great dip!
Candied Violets (or Dame’s Rocket)
- Violets or Dame’s Rocket (again, remember to wash and pat dry!)
- 1c. White sugar to be dissolved in water
- 1c. Coarse white sugar in a separate bowl
Dissolve 1c. sugar in boiling water and dip flowers into the solution. Roll them in coarse sugar and place on wax paper. Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes until they dry slightly. Serve the flowers only and avoid any stem.
The flowers are tasty by themselves, but go very well topped on desserts like cake, pudding, ice cream, and pies. Note: The Dame’s Rockets have a slight herb taste, whereas the violets are simply sweet.
Pine Needle Tea
- A handful of the greenest, youngest pine needles (Remember, not all evergreens are pines, so make sure to properly ID the tree before making the tea!)
- 1c. water
Chop needles up to be about ¼ inch long. Boil water in small saucepan and place chopped needles in it. Cover and let boil 2-3 minutes or until the needles have sunk to the bottom. Strain water off into mug and enjoy! Note: This tea is highly medicinal; having around 2-3x more Vitamin C than orange juice and is a good mucus thinner and can be even used as an antiseptic hand wash when cooled!
Interested in learning more? Stay tuned for Bucks County Audubon Society’s upcoming talk about edible and medicinal plants found in nature during our Speaker Series about Reconnecting with Nature. Visit our website, www.bcas.org for an up to date calendar of events! You can also click on these links for more information about edible plants.