Edible Weeds: The 4 Best Weeds for the Foraging Beginner

If you are just learning how to forage, you may not know that there is an undiscovered, wild salad sitting pretty and undisturbed in your own backyard.

the top edible weeds for a wildcrafting beginner

Like myself when I first began to explore more deeply into the world of foraging, you may likely be intimidated by the vast bounty that surrounds you. Flowers, herbs, weeds, roots, trees, fungus… hundreds of different kinds and with thousands of different benefits. Where do you even begin?! Why not start with edible weeds? 🙂

First things first, please do not be intimidated and give up. The key is to start small. Easy-to-find, highly nutritious plants are a great beginner’s foundation. Once you become comfortable with foraging these treasures of the earth, you will most certainly experience the joy and satisfaction of being able to feed yourself from the forest ground, and you will desire to start expanding your knowledge.

Below, I’m going to share 4 very easy to find, highly nutritious, and extremely common wild edibles. I will include the links to articles I’ve written about each plant regarding how where, how, and why to gather and use it.

To be honest, I dislike that any of these plants are referred to as just weeds, annoying and in the way in the garden. Something to be looked at negatively or destroyed. Edible weeds hold just as much importance as any other plant we choose to sell in the supermarket. Edible weeds just so happen to grow everywhere we might be looking!

15 wild edible plants that you can forage: e-book download link image

foraging for stinging nettle

1. Stinging Nettle: the edible weed that doesn’t sting

(For More Information and Ways to Use and Eat, Read Full Stinging Nettle Page Here)

+ Why you Should Incorporate Stinging Nettle into your Every Day Life

Nettles are a definite superfood, packed full of calcium, vitamins A and C, manganese, iron, and potassium. They help naturally heal the body of conditions such as anemia, scurvy, and other vitamin deficient conditions. It also is known to reduce inflammation (great for those who struggle with chronic inflammation), level blood sugar, and manage allergies. Basically, it’s one of nature’s most beneficial plants.

+ What Do They Taste Like?

This lovely plant tastes similar to spinach, very earthy. Excellent in most any dish you would normally put spinach in!

+ Why Do They Seem to Sting?

Stinging nettles have developed stinging cells as an adaptation to deter herbivores from eating them. The hairs cover the majority of the stem and the underside of the leaves. The hairs act like needles when they come into contact with the skin. Chemicals flow through them into the skin, which causes a stinging sensation and a rash. You can read more about this here.

+ Use Caution

Always harvest wearing gloves, and blanch for 1-2 minutes before cooking. This “melts” the needles, and they can no longer sting you. If using in tea (which, it is unnecessary to blanch beforehand.

Click here for stinging nettle recipes!

foraging for dandelions

2. Dandelions: so much more than a flower

(For More Information and Advice on How to Use and Eat Dandelions, Click Here)

+ Why you Should Incorporate Dandelions into your Every Day Life

Packed full of vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C (in its raw form), and a good source of calcium and potassium, dandelions ought to be a staple of every person’s diet.One cup of raw dandelion greens = 112% of your daily required intake of vitamin A and 535% of vitamin K. Score!

+ What do They Taste Like?

While the flower, stems, leaves, and roots are all edible, they are bitter and their flavor resembles that of arugula with a slight nutty twist. When making tea, I recommend a little honey. When eating the leaves, stem and flower, I recommend a little sauerkraut, or adding it to a salad with a variety of greens.

+ Can You Eat Dandelions Raw?

Yep! And please do! You ought to take the time to fully experience the flavor of this lovely plant the way that it naturally is. Give it a good rinse ahead of time if you can. You can also heat them lightly, just enough to wilt them. When eating, I recommend pairing dandelion greens with bacon, goat cheese, nuts and lemon to complement the taste. Experiment and see what you like!

+ Use Caution

Dandelions are often the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and are therefore the bee’s first food when they come out of hibernation. It’s important to not over-harvest too quickly in the spring. Forage for the leaves and leave the flowers until a fair amount of other flowers have bloomed for the bees.

Click here for dandelion recipes!!!

foraging for chickweed
chickweed in bloom

3. Chickweed: the weed that thrives

(For More Information and Advice on How to Use and Eat Chickweed, Click Here)

+ Why you Should Incorporate Chickweed into your Every Day Life

Chickweed has been used to treat stomach and bowel problems, wounds, joint pain, and other conditions, for hundreds of years. Apparently sailors used Chickweed vinegar to prevent scurvy when fresh citrus was unavailable. In foods, chickweed is eaten in salads or served as cooked greens. It’s pleasant flavor and high levels of vitamin C make for a yummy addition to any meal.

+ What do They Taste Like?

Earthy and mild. Not all too bitter to snack on plain and raw when adventuring.

+ Use Caution

Chickweed has a couple lookalikes that are toxic, namely Scarlet Pimpernel and Spurge. Before harvesting chickweed, please familiarize yourself well with it’s toxic lookalikes.

Click here for chickweed recipes!

foraging for plantain

4. Plantain: Edible and Incredible

(For More Information and Advice on How to Use and Eat Plantain, Click Here)

+ Why You Should Incorporate Plantain into your Every Day Life

From it’s properties as an astringent, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine, to it’s rather pleasant presence in a meal, it is one of the planet’s most important plants. Click here to learn more about both broadleaf and ribwort plantain (the two most popular and common species of plantain) and find out which one is preferred for medicinal properties and which one is preferred for eating!

+ What do They Taste Like?

Not too bitter, but they tend to be quite stringy if harvested later in the season. Preparation can be as simple as boiling the leaves until tender, then serving the leaves as you would spinach, A little apple cider vinegar helps enliven the taste of cooked leaves, and I personally like them served hot with butter, salt and pepper.

Click here for plantain recipes!

Happy foraging, sweet friends!

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