Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Edibles

(Common Evening-Primrose)

Spring is coming along well here....I have a couple of updates waiting, starting with this one. In a previous post, I mentioned my research into "wild edibles" in our yard starting with the common day-lily. I have now had the chance to try a few more from the list. It's really been interesting so far...and so many can be found well before the first domestic vegetables.

As you may tell from the top image, the main focus this time was the common evening-primrose. The old image below is the day-lily bed...you can spot the old evening primrose stalks in the front.

(Bed with primrose stalks and day-lily shoots)

Photos from last year show the mature plants.

The plant of interest is the early spring specimen. From my trusty field guide, I find that the young leaves can be used in salads or as a cooked green. As the description said - they are a bit peppery. They were not really bitter for me used fresh. The leaves are hairy, so the texture is a bit different.

(Common Evening-Primrose Top)

Another edible part is the cooked first-year roots...it is said the fall and early spring are the best times to harvest as they can become "quite peppery". I tried the cooked root, plain but it really was strong. It would likely be improved by using it as part of a dish and following the procedure of using 2-3 changes of water (I didn't want to go through the trouble - but should have for a better experience).

(Common Evening-Primrose Root)

So a little summary based on the guide book and an online article:

Early Spring: Tender leaves, cooked or in salad
Early Spring: First year roots, cooked
Summer-Fall: Flowers
Fall: Seeds, crack and add to baking
Late Fall: First year roots, cooked
(Peppery flavor can be reduced by using multiple changes of water in cooking.)

I have been making some Spring salads with various greens. Here is a common plantain. The young leaves (Early Spring) are used in salads or cooked. Older leaves will get stringy -- you can see the fibers in the leaf veins. They don't seem too invasive and are also medicinal for cuts and stings. Here is a nice YouTube video by "Eat the Weeds" Green Deane.

(Common Plantain)

It seems most people are familiar with dandelions. I have been mixing in some of the greens in salads as well. I notice that plants that grow in shadier places have much less bitter leaves. Dandelions have quite a list of edible uses: Salad leaves in Early Spring, Flower buds (like the one below) can be boiled or pickled, Flowers Spring to Late Summer can be cooked as fritters or used to make wine, and Early Spring and Fall roots can be roasted and used like coffee. (Dandelion Video: He can't get them to grow in his yard!)

(Dandelion Rosette)

There are much better sources of this information than here, but since this is what I am learning in the garden I will write about it. It seems that weeding can now be harvesting :-)

PS: While I am linking videos, here is the day-lily video.


Roses and Lilacs said...

I picked lots of dandelions greens to add to salads last weekend. Cleaning them is tedious. Mixed with other greens and with dressing added you can't really taste the bitterness.

Cheryl said...

Hi Chris......I have always used dandelion leaves in salads but did not know about the evening primrose. I have a lot here that reseed around the garden. Thanks to you I will be able to use them in other ways.......

ChrisND said...

Hi Marnie. Yes, they are lots of little leaves to wash. I agree that as a part of a normal salad they are okay -- I like to try the new things pretty plain at first to get an idea of the real taste they have.

ChrisND said...

Cheryl, the evening primroses have been returning here since their first year. I really like how they attract moths and other wildlife.

It's also nice to know that they can be useful for humans as well. Anyways, I am getting some colorful (in flavor) salads this year. I will try the colorful flowers later in the season.

CiNdEe said...

Great info. I would never have guessed you could eat those! I like to enjoy the plants as they flower so its nice to know that if I get really hungry I can eat them too(-:
CiNdEeS' GaRdEn

ChrisND said...

CiNdEe, it is surprising at first to learn how many things are edible. I appreciate some of these plants even more knowing they look nice, attract wildlife, and can be used by me as food.

Connie said...

Hey, cool...I had no idea that evening primrose was edible. Plantain is the first thing I reach for, for wasp stings. Good thing it grows almost everywhere.

perennialgardener said...

Who knew that while you were weeding you could kill two birds with one stone! ;) Enjoy those greens. I bet you could use those roots of the Primrose like a parsnip or carrot.

ChrisND said...

Hi Connie. It's good to know we have some easy first aid in the garden. That would be the next things to consider -- what medical herbs we have in the yard.

ChrisND said...

Perennial Gardener, some sources do suggest roasting the roots with carrots and other fall roots. Will have to try that.

Q said...

Thank you! I did not know about Evening Primrose being an edible.

Avis said...

And I thought I was being resourceful growing herbs and edible flowers. You've got me beat! What a good resource your experimentation provides. Happy blogging!

ChrisND said...

Sherry, It has been interesting to see just what is around. If it helps both the little critters and me, I am happy.

ChrisND said...

Hello Avis...Well, you are pretty resourceful to have things growing on your balcony...Space that is often under-used. We are lucky to have a yard to dig in.

Everywhere I go I now notice what can be useful -- even the weeks.