Garlic Mustard: A Wild Food Gem

Why You Should Forage

and Eat Garlic Mustard…

Alliaria petiolata

 

Garlic mustard is a biennial member of the mustard family and is considered an invasive weed, but a tasty one. As its name indicates, it has a garlicky flavor. It has low growing, kidney-shaped leaves that appear in early spring. But, by mid-spring, a taller flower stalk shoots up and bears white flowers.

This history of this plant is interesting as it is a native to Europe and Africa. It was brought to the New World in 1868 and was planted in New York. Since that time it has spread across America and is considered very invasive. This plant will overtake an area if not controlled so harvesting it helps. As with all wild foods, start out eating it slowly and do not overdo it if you are not used eating this way.

Garlic mustard is high in vitamins A,C, and E. It is rich in many trace minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and  manganese.

 

Parts Used: Young tender leaves, stalks and roots.

Leaves: Pick the tender young leaves in early spring and use mixed in salads, made into pesto, added to soups, sautéed, simmered or in sauces.

Flowering Shoot:  Pick the shoots when the flower bud is still unopened and still in a cluster.  The stalk is mild, juicy and thicker at this stage and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Added to other foods, Garlic mustard makes an excellent seasoning.

Flowers: These may be picked and added to salads or used as a garnish.

Roots: In the fall, roots may be dug, cleaned and used like Horseradish.

TIPS: Blanch and freeze for off-season use. The leaves may also be dried for winter use in soups and stews.

 

Garlic Mustard Pesto Recipe

Garlic Mustard Pesto (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 4 cups garlic mustard greens
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse the garlic mustard greens in a food processor with the walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the spout.

Serve on meat, fish, pasta, or bread. Add to a sandwich for a little extra kick. Anything!

 

 

 

The Power of Purslane

Purslane

Purslane

Purselane

Potulaca oleracea

If you are looking for a power packed food that is absolutely free for the taking, just take a look in your backyard. Purslane may be just the answer for you. This plant tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Did you know that Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots and 15 times more ALA than iceberg lettuce? So what are you waiting for, go find some Purslane and start eating it!

About Purslane:

Considered by most to be a pesky weed, this succulent herb contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant.  Purslane is a creeping, sun-loving plant that has paddle-shaped leaves with reddish stems. The flowers are tiny and pale yellow with 5 petals.

Parts Used:

Stems, leaves and seeds.

Stems and Leaves:

Purslane is an incredible source of protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, and the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids of any leafy plant.  Its flavor is a mix of cucumber and okra.  Its texture is crunchy on the outside, but has a strong mucilaginous effect inside rather like flax seeds. The thick jade-like leaves and pink stems look pretty in any dish. An easy way to add it to your diet is to just toss a few raw, washed leaves into your salad. It can also be stir-fried, or added to soups, stews and sauces. Additionally, the tender fat stems may be pickled in apple cider vinegar with garlic and peppercorns. Check out this easy salad recipe.

The tiny black seeds are about the size of grains of salt. If you look very carefully, you may be able to find them pouring out of tiny seed heads. Purslane seeds may be used in place of poppy seeds, added to cereals, ground into flour and used with whole grain flours.

 

TIPS FOR HARVESTING:

Purslane sometimes may have a tangy taste, especially when the weather has been dry; it contains malic acid, the component that makes apples sour. It forms the acid overnight and metabolizes it throughout the day, so plants picked in the morning are tangy, while by late afternoon they are bland.

 

Note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice from your professional healthcare provider. Please consult your qualified healthcare provider for treatment of medical problems.

 

Simple Purslane Salad

Ingredients
  • 2 cups purslane, coarsely chopped Purslane Summer Salad
  • 2 organic Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup organic cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
Dressing
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • pinch of Celtic sea salt
Directions

1. Add purslane, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions together. Mix gently.

2. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar together. Briskly whisk until emulsified. Add salt and pepper, continue to whisk. Serve chilled.

Wilted Dandelion Greens Salad

TIMG_5914ake advantage of the wild edibles in your backyard. In the spring time there are so many dishes you can make with Dandelions. Young Dandelion greens not only are packed with nutrition, but they are delicious too. This recipe is a traditional one use for the leaves. Although the leaves are best in early spring before the flowers bloom, they are edible throughout the year. Late fall growth produces another opportunity to collect tasty leaves just like early spring.

Ingredients
  • 4 slices of nitrate-free bacon, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tsp sucanant
  • 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and dried, stems removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Fry bacon bits in a skillet until they are crisp and have rendered all their fat.
  2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings and return the skillet to the burner.
  3. Add onion and stir in the sugar and cider vinegar.
  4. Pour the hot dressing over the greens, tossing the greens so as to coat them with dressing.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Dandelion Flower Fritters

This classic recipe has been a favorite for years among wild food enthusiast. It is both fun to collect the flowers and easy to do as an appetizer or snack that the whole family will love. This recipe has two variations: sweet or savory.

IngredientsDandelion-iStockphoto
  • 2 cups fresh dandelion flowers (bracts removed)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup organic corn meal (non GMO)
  • ½ – 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
  • ½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • Coconut oil for deep frying
Two Variations:

For sweet: add one tablespoon of honey (or to taste) plus 1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons total of the following herbs: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg.

For savory: add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano or other savory herbs. You may also want to add another dash of salt.

Directions
  1. Rinse dandelion flowers quickly in cold water. Spin in a salad spinner to dry. Pat dry between paper towels and set aside.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the egg. Combine well.
  3. Add the sweet or savory ingredients.
  4. Dip the flower blossoms into the batter, coating both sides.
  5. Once well-coated, fry in hot coconut oil that is about 1 ½ inch deep in a skillet or deep-fryer. The oil should be about 350 to 375 degrees when blossoms are place in the hot oil.
  6. When golden brown remove and place the fried fritters on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  7. Let cool slightly and enjoy.