From Pest to Pantry: Weeds You Can Eat

The heat of summer is taking over, and the weeds in your yard are flourishing along with it. You’re ready to take extreme measures to remove them, leaving your yard lush and beautiful, but there are options other than using pesticides to kill them.

Did you know that many weeds you can eat? You can find them growing right in your yard. So if you’re ready to add some more greens to your diet and give your children some insight into living off the land, here are 8 weeds to take from the yard to the kitchen.

Dandelion

Starting with a classic, dandelions can be eaten both cooked and raw. They tend to be sweeter when younger, and you can steam them or add them to a stir fry to cut down on any bitterness. Their roots can be used as a substitute for coffee grounds, and the blossoms can even be used for jelly.

Clover

Thumper wasn’t kidding when he said the blossoms are the most delicious part. Both clover and red clover can be added to soups and salads or steeped for tea. But don’t overdo it, as this little guy can act like estrogen and affect your hormones if too much is ingested.

Lamb’s Quarter

Lamb’s Quarter is often called “wild spinach” and is just as good for you as the real thing! It can easily be used raw in salads or sauteed, and it just so happens to come on the scene when spinach is leaving it. If you’re willing to put in a little extra work, Lamb’s Quarter seeds can also be harvested and roasted.

Watercress

Watercress is easy to find along the banks of streams or rivers. It is perfect to add to any salad. Rather than going to the supermarket and being overcharged to create that gourmet meal you saw on the Food Network, head down to your nearest running water source.

Kudzu

This vine originates in Japan, but it’s taken over the South. While it’s so abundant that those who aren’t ignoring it are trying to enforce some weed control, it’s also proven to help prevent cancer. Where it’s rather rampant, those on a budget might do well to harvest some and powder its roots to use in soups, sauces, and batters for fried foods.

Plantain

While definitely not the tropical fruit related to bananas, this weed can be eaten raw or cooked. The younger leaves are more tender and tasty, and the seeds can be used in a similar fashion to grains. They also have medicinal properties when used topically.

Elderflower

There are several varieties of elderberry, so it’s important to know which are creeping into your yard before sticking them in your bowl, as some parts of their bushes can be poisonous. Once thoroughly vetted, an edible elderberry will likely need its seed removed before being cooked and eaten.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle will require gloves when harvesting. Once boiled, the stinging hairs are gone and the plant leaves can be used. Try adding them to salads, soups, dips for snacks, or even your morning eggs.

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