Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

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Asta Sophi created the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

I would like to start a thread as a sort of ongoing depository for helpful foraging - especially those items we find in our yards, roadsides, that grow so abundantly.
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Asta Sophi replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

[img size=350X350] cnc-livegreen.blogspot.com/2010/08/chicory-coffee-capitol-of-america.html [/img]

Not sure that image worked - but Chicory is that tall blue flower you see in the summer along roadsides.

Chicory leaves are used in gourmet salad greens, and the root is mixed as a coffee alternative/additive.

I recently found "instant chicory" to add to coffee. I heard and read about cowboys, pioneers of the U.S. using chicory to extend the use of expensive coffee and was anxious to try it.

It is WONDERFUL, cuts the acid, adds a lot of fiber and tannins. The leaves when fairly young make wonderful raw greens with all the nutrients of dark green, leafy vegetables.

With the proliferation of this "weed" it is a good one to remember for growing and foraging.
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  • Memnoich
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Memnoich replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

extremely delicious, there is a cafe in New Orleans that is known for their coffee with Chickory, Cafe Du Monde

Dandilion:
  • This well know weed is fully edible,
  • The flowers are best known for their use in dandelion wine, but they also can be added to a salad, made into jellies or dipped in batter to make dandelion fritters.
  • The leaves can be thrown uncooked into a salad or cooked(recommended in Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America Peterson Field Guide to boil the leaves for about 5 minutes)
  • You can also cook the roots (boil 20-30 min) or roasted and ground into coffee. (Leaves are best in spring and roots are best in the fall.)
  • It has long been used as a liver tonic and diuretic.
  • In addition, the roots contain inulin and levulin, starchlike substances that may help balance blood sugar, as well as bitter taraxacin, which stimulates digestion.
  • The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C.
  • For use in salads, greens should be harvested from new plants while still small and tender, before the first flower emerges.
  • Larger greens tend to be tougher and more bitter, and better suited for cooking.




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Kol Drake replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

My first thought was dandelion. Not sure if it is the dandys or another useable plant -- but some are very 'growth stage specific' -- you have to know the proper season/growth stage or what is tasty once time can turn toxic in another stage. In other countries around the world the dandelion is considered a delicious vegetable and is consumed with affection –- and dandelion has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In America, it is generally considered a bothersome weed in the pretty yard grass to be pulled, chemical poisoned or otherwise destroyed.

It is as Memnoich states, dandelion is pretty 'all around' useful with a variety of taste sensations.

The time to harvest dandelion greens is early in the spring, when they are their youngest and before they flower. They can be harvested again in late fall as they loose some of their bitterness after a frost. Look for young dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, making sure not to forage close to roads (they can accumulate pollution) or from areas that have been treated with garden chemicals.

For a special treat, get out early in spring and look for the crown, which is the cluster of new buds that sits above the taproot. These are the tenderest, sweetest parts of the plant.

Young dandelion greens are tender and delicious served raw in salads or sandwiches. If you use the greens that have been harvested after the plant has flowered, you can blanch them in water to remove the bitterness; dump the bitter water, and blanch them again. You will loose a lot of vitamins this way, but there are still plenty of beneficial nutrients left. Use sauteed or steamed dandelion greens as you would any other greens. Dandelion root can be ground and used as a substitute for coffee, and dandelion flowers can be used in recipes and for garnish.

The French have a well-known soup called creme de pissenlits (cream of dandelion soup), which is easy to make, as is Dandelion Syrup.

So, perhaps an attitude adjustment is overdue toward the vitamin rich (vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc), tasty 'pest' in the yard.

On the health side --
Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine your body makes. The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite and help digestion. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system.

Herbalists use dandelion root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion leaves to help kidney function. Some preliminary animal studies also suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL, "good," cholesterol in diabetic mice. But not all the animal studies have found a positive effect on blood sugar, and researchers need to see if dandelion would work in people.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

Not necessarily a 'weed' or plant that grows normally in your yard but... cherries. Especially the tart ones. They are VERY good for inflammation and helping the body with calcium and potassium for bones, etc.

According to a 2010 study presented by a team of Michigan researchers at the Experimental Biology annual meeting -- researchers found that a cherry-enriched diet not only reduced overall body inflammation, but also reduced inflammation at key sites (belly fat, heart) known to affect heart disease risk in obese, at-risk rats.

Once upon a time, the cherry industry tried to stick "good against inflammation" on their labels but the FDA (backed by complaints from the Big Pharma lobby) nixed it and fined those who even put blurbs which might say cherries are 'healthy for you'. Can't make bazillions when you can't patent a naturally growing goody.
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

One other yard produce item -- beets.

My ex sister-in-law used to can beets, beet juice and made a beet jam which my kids (when young) ate like there was no tomorrow. Beets are an extremely nutritious food choice – you can eat the greens too! Beets are an insane source of vitamins and minerals. But did you know that beets are the second largest source of sugar, after sugar cane?

1. Beets are nature’s Viagra
Seriously. One of the first known uses of beets was by the ancient Romans, who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. And that’s not just urban legend – science backs it up. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.

2. Beets are high in many vitamins and minerals
Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. to name just a few of the many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can be found in beets and beet greens. Beets are particularly beneficial to women whom are pregnant, as the vitamin B and iron are very beneficial to new growth cells during pregnancy and replenishing iron in the woman’s body.

3. Beets cleanse the body
They are a wonderful tonic for the liver, works as a purifier for the blood, and can prevent various forms of cancer. Nuff said, right?

4. Beets help your mental health
Beets contain betaine, the same substance that is used in certain treatments of depression. It also contains trytophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate. Beets can also lower your blood pressure.

5. Beets are used as a stomach acid tester
How in the world does that work? If you are eating a lot of beets or beet juice, and your pee turns pink, guess what? You have low stomach acid. Pee still clear? Ratchet it up and get juicing (use the greens too)! Nutritionists use beets and beet juice to test stomach acid levels, so stay ahead of the curve by adding beets to your diet now.

6. Beets are a high source of energy
At the same time they are low in calories and high in sugar (although the sugar is released into your system gradually, as opposed to chocolate). Very few foods found in the natural world are as beneficial as beets in this regard. Beets are a wonderful addition to any dietary need. With their high volume of nutrients, delicious taste, and multitude of uses, anyone can jump right into beets without missing a beat.

Fun Fact: Beets were served in space when the astronauts of Apollo 18 met up with their brethren in Soyuz 19. They served borscht.

If you are juicing, but haven’t gotten to veggies yet, give beets a try. Use a small amount at first to supplement your already yummy fruit smoothies. Work your way up to more as you see fit. Many do 'a beet a day' and add some greens in too along with the other smoothie stuff. Great morning 'energy' drink.

Toss sliced/cubed cooked beets into salads.

One warning as noted above: Too much 'beet benefit' and you might pee pink to red... but it's all healthy! Just drink more water. Some 'friends' up in Canada wanted to freak me out by serving a beet tea.. which would have turned my pee bright red... thankfully they took pity on me. (They later told me about it and said if red was not to my liking, they had teas for purple and green 'streams' too.)
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Asta Sophi replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

Lambsquarter - and here is a link to a page about this very common yard/roadside Green Eats.

HERE is a nice link to an article on Lambsquarters, how to spot them, and using them for food.

Like Dandelion, this stuff is full-packed of the best nutrients around! (I dunno about beets being a "weed" here in Michigan - unless it is something I just haven't located. I love beets - beats don't love me as much for some reason). Cherries - funny you should mention it Kol! I plan to plant a Cherrie tree soon! (I have grapes, apples, and mulberry trees but cherries do very well in Michigan and I am doing all I can to help the Bee Population!)

So glad to see so many Jedi Greenies out there!!!!
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

For those looking to find edible flowers and 'weeds' -- a good site. Pictures of the flowers (one page) and weeds (FOUR pages) and another whole section on recipes & teas, so... time to survey the backyard for munchies!

>>> Edible Wild Food <<<
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Jax replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

I'll have to try some of these other options. It'll be very handy when hiking in the woods/mountains. I'm surprised they didn't include clover flowers, since they mention the plant in alfalfa. I learned as a kid to eat clover flowers for a nice sweet snack. :-)
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Kol Drake replied the topic: Great Eats - Who Knew? Foraging

It's under weeds... like third page in -- "red" Clover (also called purple clover... depending). More known for use in teas and tonics but... they have recipe links to >> Burdock Tonic Tea, Clover Syrup, Herbal Shampoo, Leek and Nettle Soup at the bottom of the page.

We had red clover all over our front yard in South Dakota. Bees loved to visit and sip.
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