Spring Wild Edibles
Did you know that some of our everyday herbs, known as “weeds” to most people, are edible and have many medicinal properties within them?
We’re going to discuss 3 common spring herbs today that fit both of these descriptions of edible and medicinal.
1. Chickweed- Latin name: Stellaria media (common names- starwort, starweed)
Have you seen chickweed growing in your yard or around you? This herb is found mostly in the spring time growing wild just about anywhere, growing within a tangled mat.
The flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and one of the most defining components of this herb is the flower that looks like a star…5 groups of 2 petals, equaling 10 petals in total.
Chickweed has soothing, nourishing, cooling, refrigerant (cooling for fevers), hydrating, anti-inflammatory, mucilaginous, alterative (gradually restore the proper function of the body and increase health and vitality), and demulcent (a substance that relieves irritation of the mucous membranes by forming a protective film.) properties.
Chickweed is excellent for bronchitis, pleurisy, coughs, colds, hoarseness, inflammation, weakness of the bowels, stomach, lungs, and bronchial tubes. It is wonderful for any type of internal and external inflammations. It has also been used successfully for breaking up growths within the body as well, including ovarian cysts.
You can use chickweed in salads, pestos, vinegar nutritive tonics, stir fry’s, tinctures, teas, salves, poultices, and soups/stews.
Find a delicious wild chickweed pesto recipe below.
2. Dandelion – Latin name: Taraxacum officinale (common name: lion’s tooth or tooth of a lion)
I don’t think I need to introduce you to dandelions but let me educate you on the wonderful nutritious and medicinal properties this humble plant offers us?
Dandelion has hepatic (assists the functions of the liver), diuretic, diaphoretic, tonic, cholagogue (assists with inflammation and congestion in the liver and gallbladder), laxative, and anti-viral properties. Dandelion helps to purify the blood and is a wonderful herb to use for those dealing with anemia. It has a beneficial affect on the liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas.
The root and leaves are the most medicinal but the flowers can be added to foods, salads, vinegars, wine, and mead.
You can roast the root and use it as a delicious alternative for coffee. The root can be tinctured or made into a tea decoction for liver support.
You can use the leaves in a tincture form with the root, use in vinegar, eat in salads, stir fry’s, pestos, and as a green addition to your soups, stews, and sautés. The leaves are bitter and this bitterness is one of the ways this herb assists in its purgative and cholagogue actions on the liver and gallbladder. The younger leaves are not as bitter as the older, larger leaves, but both can be used.
Here are some exciting studies showing the anti-viral properties of this medicinal plant:
3. Purple Dead Nettles- Latin name: Laminum purpureum (common name: purple archange
Purple dead nettles have a slight resemblance to stinging nettles, hence the name. This herb is in the mint family and one of it’s defining characteristics is a square stem with small purple flowers on the top of the leaves.
It grows abundantly in the spring and comes up prolifically in yards, fields, meadows, and wild places.
This plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It can used as a poultice and salves for skin irritations and inflammations. It is also edible and can be added as a garnish for salads, added into pestos, soups, stews, nutritive vinegar tonics, and made into a tea for internal inflammations.
Nutritive Vinegar Tonic Recipe
Vinegar is one of the oldest solvents used in herbal medicine. Vinegar has been used for its preventive and nutritive properties and when adding herbs to the solution, it greatly enhances the nutritive compounds.
Vinegar herbal preparations are recommended to be taken over a long period of time for health maintenance, such as; tonic and vitamin mineral formulas.
Today, we’re going to add dandelion, chickweed, and purple dead nettles to our vinegar to make a nutritive spring tonic.
Fill a jar (whichever size you desire) halfway full with dandelion (flowers and leaves), purple dead nettles (leaves and flowers), and chickweed, equal portions of each are good.
You may also add, violets and their leaves, red clover, and stinging nettles to this mix if you have them. These are also very valuable and nutritive herbs with numerous medicinal components.
Pour raw apple cider vinegar (unfiltered and organic) over the fresh herbs in your jar. Pour enough vinegar about 2-3 inches higher than the herbs. As the herbs get saturated with the vinegar, they may swell. If this happens, pour more ACV over herbs until it is covering the plants in the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment paper over jar top and then place metal lid on top. The vinegar will corrode the metal.
Place jar in a place where you can be reminded to shake it daily, try to keep away from heat and direct sunlight. Leave in jar for 4-6 weeks and then strain. Compost spent herbs and reserve liquid into a glass jar.
May use in salad dressings, as a digestive supporter, and anyway you specifically use vinegar internally.
Take 1-2 TBSP with each meal for nutritive and medicinal purposes.
Wild Chickweed Pesto Recipe
3 cups chickweed
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (or 2 lemons is fine too)
3-4 cloves raw garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (may increase to ½ cup if more liquid is needed)
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor of high speed blender and process until a pesto consistency is obtained.
Use in sandwiches, wraps, over meat, salads, over cooked veggies, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, or any food that needs some extra taste enhancement.