Wednesday, July 07, 2010

using weeds

Learning loads about plants with purposes, Innes always seems to be harvesting something to eat or dry or soak in oil to save.

Purslane, is commonly mistaken for a weed.  An annual, it grows all over the place in any freshly turned soil, covering the ground with its fleshy succulent stems and leaves.  excellent raw in salads, but can also be stir fried, cooked and used similarly to spinach and used to enhance stews.  It grows quickly here and freezes well.

Good King Henry, I think that is its common English name, Chenopodium, another annual weed that grows in prolific numbers in freshly turned soil.  Frequently eaten in a mixed salad or green garnish, though have yet to discover other uses.  Just take the fresh young leaves as the old ones become a little tough.  Apparently it is the most common ‘weed’ in the world and its seeds are known as Quinoa, used as a grain that is popular for those with a wheat intolerance.

St Johns Wort is everywhere in the house, hanging up to dry, lying out on tables, steeping in oil or alcohol in jars and bottles. 

Walnut wine is a local favourite.  Not a wine in the true sense of the word, rather an alcoholic infusion.  Immature nuts are harvested before their insides are completely formed and there is no hard shell.  These are dropped into a concoction of white wine, eau de vie, sugar, a few spices, perhaps an orange, depending on the local recipe that is followed, and the whole thing is left to do its thing for at least 40 days. The resultant speciality is a potent tipple with distinctive colour and flavour that is sure to bring enthusiastic discussion amongst those who have prepared their own brew.


Harvest early before the heat of the day, then leave produce in the cool and the shade until they are needed or process immediately if they are to be preserved in any way. Plants recharge themselves overnight and are full of moisture and flavour in the morning.  Exposure to the sun lessens the intensity of the flavoursome volatile oils and starts to dry out fruits and vegetables.  Many will be softer in the afternoon after a morning in the heat of a of bright sun and will be more easily damaged than something harvested plump and fresh after a cool night.

Only save as much as you need until next season, especially in the freezer.  Here there is masses of frozen garden produce to eat before the new seasons crop comes on line.  I have a horrible feeling  that I will be tiring of green beans just as the new ones become ready to pick, ditto tomatoes, though, at least the new ones will suit a salad rather than a sauce or stew.  I have absolutely no idea what the 20 bags of chestnuts will be used for and the next harvest will be in about 3 months, they really are a winter food.  A bit of creative cooking is going to be needed during the next few weeks I feel.


Anonymous said...

check out

ps I am now trying to hunt down an article I had in one of my gardening mags all about things you can eat that we class as weeds...need to wade my way through many many piles!

Donna said...

My professor in college (BS in Horticulture) always said that a Weed is simply a plant out of place.

Sometimes that is the way I feel about myself!

Purslane is a lovely little succulent, tasty too.

samthegardener65 said...

Sorry, other pictures of things that we have eaten here would not load, may add them at another time.

@ anonymous, Thanks for the wwoof link, I discovered it several years ago, but decided to go with the option instead as it seemed a bit more up to date.

@ Donna, that is what I learned too, but to leave plants that are out of place for a week or so and then eating them seems like a much better idea than just disposing of them whilst they are small and unusable.

Maybe I should start an open blog about edibles that anyone can add too.

Anonymous said...

sorry Sam...anonymous was me...Moi
I found the wwoof thing in my gardening mag this month....looks quite good with lots of places thought I'd flag it up...still havent found the article on edible weeds...but as more rain is forecast for tomorrow ( has rained since our hosepipe ban started!) maybe I will chill on the sofa and search! After all this rain there will be lots of weeds!