Out of curiosity, if someone asked you to go out into your yard and sample some of its vegetation, what would your reaction be? Revulsion? Nausea? Interest? Delight? Well, a couple of weeks ago that was the task set before the Nutrition class I’m in this semester. And the reactions were as varied as my classmates! Some looked stunned and asked if our teacher was joking or not. 😀 Which of course, she wasn’t kidding. This is how some of my classmates faces looked as we all tramped outside.
Prior to leaving class that day, we had to sample dandelion leaves and flowers, violet leaves and flowers (if we could find any), clover leaves, and redbud flowers (if we could find a nearby tree). Then we had to write a paragraph detailing our thoughts on the tastes and textures of the items we sampled. I laughed when she announced this assignment because I actually have an interest in edible flowers and wild vegetation. Several years ago, I decided to sample dandelion greens as part of my salad. Through that, I learned the younger leaves are the better tasting ones. Even though they still have a bitter kick to them, the older leaves are much more repugnant.
This assignment came as a coincidence for me because the day before this happened I actually sampled a violet flower on my own accord. My best friend and I were out walking her baby, when I got the sudden impulse to snip a violet from a yard we were passing. Kim looked at me funny for a split second when I popped it into my mouth, but she just shook her head and laughed because it’s nothing new for her to see me sample new things at random like that.
Here’s the skinny on sampling your yard:
As I’ve said already, the leaves are quite bitter, especially the older leaves. But the flowers I found to be strangely satisfying. They had this almost butteriness to them and I thought they were easy to chew and swallow. Everyone readily recognizes these common weeds. One thing though, eat the yellow-orange flowers, not the puff-ball white ones…. just saying not a mistake I’d want to make. I’ve seen the faces toddlers make when they try the puff-ball, it’s not pretty.
The flowers are hard to describe, but I rather enjoy eating them. They are pleasant and slightly crunchy, with a mildly sweet flavor. The heart-shaped leaves which surround the flowers are edible as well. One might expect the leaves to be grassy tasting, but they aren’t in the slightest. Eating a violet leaf is a lot like eating a lettuce leaf. Both flower and leaf are an enjoyable addition to a salad.
While clover comes in many forms, some without flowers and some with white or reddish conical flowers, to my knowledge each form is edible. I sampled the flowerless variety and the leaves from a white-flowered one. The leaves of both varieties are surprisingly juicy. That’s not to say they squirt liquid like when you bite into a cherry tomato, but they have enough juice to make them refreshing and easy to chew. A year ago, I sampled the red clover flower and found it to be delicately sweet and tasty. I think they’re fun just to snack on, but they’d probably be good as part of a salad as well.
Much to my disappointment, I couldn’t find any redbud flowers to sample. Though, I do fully intend to try it at some point. There are many other common flowers which are edible. The following video details a few and for further satisfaction of curiosity a detailed list can be found HERE. It’s a good resource for choosing from edible flowers.
This site has a little video as well. http://how2heroes.com/videos/field-trips/edible-flowers-garden-tour
Through this little experiment, I realized that some people were concerned about what may have… shall we say… gone to the bathroom in the yard. Truly, if that is a major concern and deterrent, one solution would be to grow your own in a controlled environment then no worries about the bathroom issue. 😀 Another item to consider trying your hand at is wheat grass. I grew it for my nutrition Grow a Food project.
Yes, it looks like grass and smells a little grassy, but overall it tastes like any other leafy green. To get the most nutrients from the plant it is recommended that the grass should be harvested when it is between five and seven inches tall, then run it through a juicer. Though it can be consumed whole in small quantities, the human body cannot digest it properly, so it’s best in juice or supplement form. My conclusion about this aspect is that it makes for a HEAVY dose of fiber, which provided you also drink adequate amounts of water simply cleanses your digestive tract of carcinogens. Again, those are only my thoughts and they are not backed up by any scientist or anything. Just my opinion. Some Frequently Asked Questions on Wheat Grass can be found HERE.
Taking this Nutrition class has made me want to look into both nutritionist and herbalist degree programs. I may have found a direction for after I graduate Drury, but then again this has always been more of a hobby for me that one I’ve considered for a career path.