It’s surprising how many unusual plants are edible. Some of them decorate your window with rich flowers; others look like weeds.
When you look around, you can see daylilies bloom profusely in your front garden. A goutweed—which you are constantly trying to get rid of—peeks out next to them. Houseleeks are slowly spreading on the wall. Take a piece from each and prepare a fresh salad. You’ll create an unusual dish full of vitamins, minerals, and various tastes.
JUICY CRUNCHY SUCCULENTS
Opuntia Leaves (Opuntia ficus-indica)
Dragon fruits, or prickly pears are commonly available at every supermarket. Did you know that the whole opuntia cactus is edible? You can also cook the pulp. Opuntia leaves serve as vegetables to make a fresh salad or smoothie. You can also add them to a cooked vegetable dish. The leaves taste a bit like asparagus, green beans, or green peppers. They remain a bit crunchy even after cooking.
Prickly pear comes from Central America. Mexicans began to cultivate it purposefully 8000 to 9000 years ago. There are more than 50 edible types. The most common species for targeted cultivation is Opuntia ficus-indica. Prickly pear grows from Canada to Chile.
Passionate gardeners can choose a huge number of forms and tastes, with or without thorns. Opuntia’s inflorescences offer countless flower variants. Besides the fact opuntia serves as fruits and vegetables, it also ornament gardens.
Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)
Young and fresh green roses with no inflorescences are suitable for eating. The slightly bitter houseleek’s pulp refreshes a light salad. It fits into oil and vinegar dressing. It will serve perfectly as part of the side dish to white meat. Interestingly, it will also enrich fruit bowls or a hard alcohol shot.
The houseleek’s origin is the mountains of southern Europe. It grows on weathered rocks and ruins. Houseleek loves old walls, dry ceramic pots, and rockeries. As many succulent species, it can withstand extreme drought and frost; you don’t need to water it.
In the past, people placed the houseleek on the roofs. Because they believed it protected houses from lightning. The medieval Roman emperor, Carloman I issued an order to plant houseleeks on all roofs. Modern architects recommend the evergreen plant for green roofs.
Sea Beans (Salicornia europaea)
Juicy sea beans are a favorite herb in the coastal countries of Europe. Farmers sell them at markets. Salicornia has a taste and structure like asparagus. You can consume them raw or fried.
The Turks prepare sea beans as an appetizer. To soften the intense sea-salt taste, they blanch the green rhizomes for 7-8 minutes. Then they pull them down by hand to remove the hard stalk remain. Dressing of olive oil, lemon, and garlic fits this dish. Sea beans fantastically taste risotto and seafood.
The salicornia grows near the coast, mangroves, and dunes. How and where to plant them? Sea beans grow from North America, through Europe, to South Africa and South Asia. They love moist soils and because it requires salt, from time to time water them with saltwater. For this reason, it is good to grow it in a pot.
ENRICH YOUR DIET WITH ORNAMENTAL FLOWERS
The daylily is an edible plant from the bloom to the tuber, fresh or cooked. The countries of East Asia consider red, orange, or yellow flowers to be excellent spices. Due to their intense aroma, the flowers are a big part of vegetarian Vietnamese soups. Yellow daylilies taste like jasmine, and the orange ones have a slightly sour taste.
Prepare a delicacy: steam the closed buds for a few minutes, pour butter over them, and serve. You can also fill the flowers with various fillings. Chicken, cream cheese, and grated celery go great with the daylily. Fill the daylilies, place the flowers in a bowl, and cover them with green stems. Like the icing on the cake, make fried chips from day-lilies tubers.
Daylilies grow wild in damp meadows, along rivers, and on forest edges in western Asia. The mild climate with temperatures from 2 to 18 ° C is ideal for growth. They thrive best in permeable, moist soil with enough humus.
Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum)
Geranium is one of the edible plants we can consume the whole. The leaves and flowers of fragrant geraniums are edible. Thanks to the essential oils, they give meat dishes and salads a delicate aroma. Confectioners appreciate them as decorative elements for desserts.
Fragrant flowers are suitable for compotes and jams as well. Varieties with a lemon scent add a fresh taste to sorbets or tea. The young leaves flavor herb butter and spread.
About 300 geranium species grow in tropical and subtropical regions. Most of the plants and shrub forms need a warm sunny habitat. Thus, their natural home is in South Africa. The wide use of the geraniums makes them multi-purpose useful plants. They have high application in the perfume and dye industry.
Wax Begonia (Begonia cucullata)
Begonia with wax leaves, flowers, and stems are edible. The flowers have citrus and sour taste. So they are an excellent ingredient in sorbet, smoothies, and teas. You can mix the petals into a salad or decorate a meal, and you can drink with them. Begonia stalks are a great substitute for rhubarb to make a fruitcake.
Most begonias have edible flowers, wax begonia species are edible from a stem to a flower. Yet, control consumed amounts due to the oxalic acid content, which can damage the kidneys. In general, a few flowers on a cake will not harm anyone.
Begonia seeds are among the smallest plant seeds in the world. When you spill the seeds on your hand, they will be small as dust. A layman might think begonias have no seeds.
TASTE EDIBLE WEED SMOOTHIE
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is one of the most widespread edible weed. It contains vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Collect young plants in a sunny place. They have a higher concentration of beneficial substances and less nitrogen. Mix them into the spring detox smoothie.
Nettle leaves cut into small strips are suitable for vegetable salads. Prepare an original pesto for pasta, using nettle leaves instead of Italian herbs. Flavor the pesto with spices or garlic. If you prefer a cooked meal, make unusual spinach, or add the fresh plant to a soup.
Tea made from fresh or dried nettles detoxifies a body. The decoction adds shine and strength to the hair. Nettle supports immunity, protects against infections, and washes away impurities from the body. The cooked plant supplies the body with iron, calcium, magnesium, proteins, and vitamins.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Do you know how the yellow beauty tastes? The leaves are bitter remain chicory or arugula. Fresh dandelion leaves and flowers fit summer salads, open sandwiches, or baguettes. Flowers sprinkled with powdered sugar provide an attractive design to cakes and pies.
Do you prefer alternative sweeteners? Here is a quick recipe for homemade syrup: Boil 300 dandelion flowers with 2 lbs cane sugar in 0.3 gallon of water. Boil slowly until the mixture thickens. Pour the syrup through a colander into jars. Keep it in a dark cold place. Dandelion syrup tastes like bee honey.
Beekeepers consider dandelions to be highly important plants for honey bees. Because they provide food in all vegetation stages in the northern hemisphere. Maybe it’s time to protect dandelions instead of getting rid of them like weeds.
Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)
While the leaves are still young and brittle, they have a delicate, slightly spicy taste, like celery or parsley. They might serve as a part or base of a salad. Fresh, bright green and crispy leaves are a real delicacy, suitable for egg sandwiches or potato dishes. Blanch the plant for one minute, or fry briefly and flavor like spinach. Goutweed will enrich various fillings, soups, and smoothies.
The Ancient Romans already valued periwinkles as valuable vegetables. Hildegard of Bingen describes the goutweed in her German writings. It was purposefully cultivated as a rare monastic herb to treat gout, constipation, and rheumatism.
Biologists aren’t sure if this widespread plant came from Europe or Asia. Due to its tendency to occur in large groups, the goutweed is easy to find, and the harvesting doesn’t take too long. Collect goutweed in meadows or gardens. The plant growing by the forests can crossbreed with inedible herbs.
Each plant has specific conditions to grow well. There is a world map of agricultural zones. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map helps you figure out a plant’s needs. Grow edible plants in your garden or buy them from a grower who doesn’t use pesticides. Before preparing the plants, make sure you have the proper edible species on your plate. Initially, taste a small amount to rule out a possible allergic reaction.