Our lawns and backyards are full of REALLY good stuff to eat…lots of edible wild plants!
Did you know that Dandelion flowers are delicious? Don’t get any of the bitter white liquid on them when you snap them off the stems. Add flower petals only to soups, dip the full flowers in batter and deep-fry for fritters that can be served covered in icing sugar, or with syrup poured over them, or sprinkle the petals in your salad for a delightful experience. The leaves, too, when very young in the early spring, can be added to salads. They can also be cooked like spinach, and like spinach they will cook down to almost nothing, so make sure you have lots in the pot. Don’t overdo your “feed” of Dandelion. When my Mom was a girl they used to call this plant PISS A BEDPis-en-lit (same name!!) Their astringent properties are very strong, so don’t eat too many!
The first sprouts of woodland fern is called Fiddlehead because that is exactly what it looks like. Pick these edible wild plants when they are about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches tall, in other words, the rolled up bit at the top is just peeking out of the soil. These are best used as a cooked vegetable – saute them in a little oil or bacon dripping – add a bit of onion and/or garlic and serve as a stand alone veg. with a meal, or with scrambled eggs and toast at breakfast! M-m-m-m good! Because they are found, for the most part, in the woods along streambanks, and because the soil there is usually very sandy, you will have to wash your fiddleheads well before cooking. Fiddleheads can also be submerged in boiling water for about 30 seconds then cooled and frozen for use later on in the year. I’ve heard of people saving them until Christmas and surprising their guests with a royal feast of wild plants!
Violets are edible wild plants that are overlooked as a special treat. They can be added to salads, or dipped in sugar syrup to make candies. Just the flowers are used in salads, and just the flowers are used to make candies. Once you have dipped your flowers in a sugar syrup, leave them to dry – depending on the temperature of your room, or whether it is raining or sunny, you may have to leave your violet flowers for a few days to thoroughly dry out and harden. Then shake them in a bag in which you have put a little icing sugar – and voila! An instant gift fit for any member of the family – now all you need is a nice box or tin.
Many of us have Daylilies in our gardens, and they, too, have many uses. Petals of the open flowers can be added to salads, not only for colour, but for exceptional flavour. The buds, shown here, can be fried up much like fiddleheads and served as a veg. The buds should have as little colour as possible and not open yet.