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an edible plant tour

Last night Emily and I headed out to Allandale Farm in Brookline to meet up with a group for an Edible Plant Tour.

It was so interesting!  We walked all over the farm and whenever we came across something edible, Russ stopped and talked to us about the plant, how you can identify it, what it tastes like and what you can do with the plant.

We learned about a lot of edible plants all growing on Allandale’s property, but I will just go through the highlights here (and the ones I remember the best!).

I hope you enjoy…

Amaranth (see above) – this is often considered a weed in many people’s gardens, but it can definitely be eaten.  It is sometimes associated with beets due to the vibrant color or its roots, but it should not be confused.  Take off the leaves of the plant and steam them to enjoy like as you would spinach or another leafy green veggie!

Woodsorrell (see above) – this is sometimes mistaken for clovers, however, if you look closely, you will see that woodsorrell has heart-shaped leaves while clovers do not.  The leaves have a very sour taste that I actually enjoyed!  They would be perfect mixed into a salad.

Peppergrass (see above) – the small buds climbing up the stems of the peppergrass plant can be eaten and have a very pepper flavor to them.  Initially, it is not noticeable, then all of a sudden you will get a kick of flavor!  Add these buds to salads or on top of chicken, fish or steak – anywhere you would use pepper.

Poor Man’s Pepper (see above) – this is known as ‘poor man’s pepper’ because it looks similar to peppergrass.  However, the peppery flavor is not as potent and the buds don’t taste nearly as good.

Purslane (see above) – you can use purslane as you would use any leaf vegetable.  It tastes a little bit like spinach.  It is a powerhouse in that it contains more Omega 3’s than any other leaf vegetable and also contains iron as well.  Try it in gazpacho or with other mixed greens.

White Goosefoot (see above) – otherwise known as ‘wild spinach’ because the leaves can also be eaten as a leafy vegetable, such as spinach.

Stinging Nettles (see above) – these plants will sting you if you touch them with your bare skin!  However, if you carefull bring them home without touching them, you can steam the leaves and use them to make a soup (Cream of Nettle Soup).  Once boiled, the stingers become a protein!

Curled Dock (see above) – the leaves are the antidote to stinging nettle!  Rub them on your exposed skin and the pain will go away.  You can also eat the leaves which will help to boost your iron levels.

Burdock (see above) – the stems of this big leafy plant look like rhubarb, however, they are green instead of red.  You can eat the leaves and stalks of the plant.  The stalks taste the artichokes at certain points in its growth.

Jewel Weed (see above) – often referred to as ‘touch me not’ do to its small buds that burst when ripe and touched.  The small seeds inside of the buds are a robin’s egg blue and taste similar to walnuts.  The leaves can be crumpled up and used as a cure to poison ivy.

Autumn Olives (above) – well, these are the Autumn Olive trees, the olives do not grow until the fall (hence the name of the tree).  The berries are a beautiful red color and are sweet.  They can be boiled and seeded and used to make jams, fruit leather or anything else.

Wild Lettuce (above) – all wild lettuce can be eaten just as you would eat other lettuce.  At this point in the season wild lettuce will be too bitter to eat, but early springtime it is perfect.  All lettuce has a milky substance that comes out of the stalk when broken, so if the lettuce you find does not have that, then it’s not lettuce!

Shagbark Hickory (above) – the nuts of this tree are edible and delicious.  The pods will fall off of the tree at the end of September.  Once they do, scoop them up and take them home!  You can crack open the shells to find a wonderful nut meat inside that will resemble and taste like a walnut.

Daylily (above) – there are 5 edible parts to this plant!  Basically, everything can be eaten.  The dried flowers are used in some chinese food recipes, such as the sweet and sour soup.  The pods can be eaten as peas and the green leaves can be cut up and used as scallions.  Add the wilted flowers to soup as a thickener.

Jerusalem Artichoke (above) – the tubers of this plant are edible.  They can be eaten late September until early April.  Slice them up and roast them in the oven just as you would an artichoke.

Plantain Leaves (above) – not to be confused with plantain the fruit.  These leaves can basically be used as a band-aid.  Place the leaf on a cut and it will stop bleeding almost immediately.

Sassafras (above)!! – otherwise known as the tree that gives us rootbeer!  The roots give us the rootbeer flavor, while the branches give off a citrus flavor that can be used to make tea.  The tree is recognizable by its 3 different shaped leaves – a mitten, a glove and a leaf!

Chicory (above) – the leaves of the plant (picture #2) look like dandelion greens and they can be used in the same way as well.  However, the roots are the good part of this plant.  Clean the roots, then roast them for a few hours until brittle.  Grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder and brew them as you would a cup of coffee!  The finished product is delicious.  The only difference between chicory coffee and coffee bean coffee is the caffeine level, chicory has no caffeine!

Ok, so this was more than the highlights, but I remembered so much more than I thought I would!

I can’t wait to learn more about this type of stuff – and I can’t until the fall to find some Autumn Olives!

I hope you enjoyed our tour. 🙂


3 Responses

  1. This is SO COOL! What an interesting tour! I love this stuff!

  2. thanks so much for good pics

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