Last week I was lucky enough to take a tour of the Highlands Mansion gardens and wild areas with members of the Pennypack Farm Herb Study Group, led by forager Sarah Murray. Sarah lived for over 20 years in France, and developed an interest from her former husband François Couplan, a renowned expert on the edible plants of the world.
We met in the evening and, knowing we had limited light, tried to get as much in as we could even though we could stop every few feet in just the tended CSA beds to find wonderful edibles! Right away Sarah pointed out Evening Primrose with her precious flowers and edible leaves, growing all by herself near the garden gate, and a lush hedgerow of Mugwort that led us to a discussion of Mugwort cake in Korean culture. Interesting note: Mugwort looks like Feverfew when it's young.
Lamb's Quarters was standing near the Basil rows, and Sarah explained she much prefers to call it by another common name, Wild Spinach, since that makes people more likely to try it! It's a relative of Quinoa, and the seeds can be used in the same way. A distinguishing feature is a white bloom, or powder, on the very young leaves. And yes, it tastes like spinach.
Wild Carrot IS Queen Anne's Lace! I didn't know that! She's a biennial, so the first year has low growing, ferny, carrot-like leaves and tiny carrot-like taproots that smell STRONGLY of carrot. In the second year, the flower stalk shoots up into the familiar white umbrel with the dark drop in the center. She has hairy stems and very aromatic seeds, unlike Wild Hemlock, a potential look-alike that is VERY TOXIC but has no smell (seeds, roots or otherwise) and no hairs.
We came upon Velvet Leaf, a relative of Marshmallow that I wasn't familiar with before. It develops a fun pod with edible seeds that taste a little like green peppers. The leaves are also edible, and lend an interesting texture to a pesto.
There was plenty of Red Clover all over the CSA beds as well, and we discussed the white chevron on the leaves that marks the medicinal plants.
Next, we found Galinsoga, a weed I have seen many times and one that Sarah didn't have a common name for. It makes a nice salad green and has edible flowers, too.
Finally, we searched out a patch of Ground Ivy that Sarah had scouted earlier. It's great for allergic sinus issues, but tonight we were going to make Ground Ivy Chips!
After it got too dark, we went back to one of our fellow walker's homes for snacks. We had a nice salad with all sorts of greens and flowers, a superb pesto and the chips, with some crackers and a fantastic tea of Hibiscus, Cinnamon, Stevia and Nettles.
More Foraged Plants from Fellow Walker Hilarie
Ground Ivy Chips:
Dressing - 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt, pinch of garlic powder, olive oil.
Mix ingredients in that order, then coat the washed and stemmed leaves
Place the leaves one-by-one on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, smoothing out so they are open and flat.
Place in oven preheated to 400º, and leave in exactly 3 minutes.
Remove leaves from sheet immediately and enjoy!
Garlic Mustard leaves, Velvetleaf leaves, and any other aromatic leaves work well (Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, etc.).
Soak 1 cup raw almonds overnight and remove the skins.
Place them in a food processor, and add the leaves, washed and stemmed (about 2-3 cups) and salt. You can also add fresh garlic for flavor.
Add 2-3 tbs coconut oil and blend. Add water or coconut milk to obtain a smooth texture.
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
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