You know those weeds that are constantly taking over your yard? Well, you should eat them! Many of the plants we consider weeds are not only edible but can be delicious. Find out which ones I am talking about below.
Before you go totally into date night mode and start trying to eat all of the weeds in your lawn, there are some things you need to find out first. Are these plants poisonous? How do they taste? Are there any animals eating them? If you’re really serious about finding new ways to date with food, this is a good thing to research before mowing down on anything growing near or around your home.
Did You Know…
-Kudzu is eaten an alternative starch source worldwide. It is considered an invasive species in the US because it climbs over and kills trees. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
-Mints are often used to flavor beverages and desserts, but did you know that peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, basil, sage, rosemary and lavender are also edible? Mints taste fresh and menthol-like when eaten raw. When cooked they lose this flavor profile quickly so only use briefly when cooking with them. -Rose hips are not something to eat right off the bush; they’re best used for making teas or other beverages like jams or syrups (that can be added to cocktails). They’re with vitamin C!
-Dandelions can be used as salad greens or cooked like spinach. They contain plenty of vitamins and minerals making them a nutritional powerhouse. -Chickweed may not taste as good as dandelion greens, but it is full of vitamins and nutrients similar to its “taste level”.
-Clovers are also edible and chock full of nutrients including minerals, antioxidants and even protein.
-Purslane is delicious raw in salads, fried like chips on their own (purple stems!) or with other vegetables and tastes like arugula or watercress when cooked.
-When harvested correctly, stinging nettle leaves do not sting! This plant has been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels along with certain types of arthritis. Be careful though; it can be highly variable in its stinging ability (mostly due to rainfall).
-Pine needles are edible and used as flavoring for tea or can be added to curries along with other herbs like bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. -Juniper berries are often the primary flavor in gin but they also taste like pine nuts when eaten raw. They can also be dried and ground into a rub for meat or used to season sauerkraut or pickled vegetables.
-Thistles aren’t edible unless you get rid of all the spiky parts! The inside of these prickly plants is actually tender enough to eat raw in after removing the stem and leaves.
-Grasses are considered a weed for a reason: they’re pretty difficult to eat. Corn smut is sometimes eaten as a delicacy in Mexico, but other than that grass isn’t typically something you see on date menus.
-Don’t forget about fruits! Many edible flowers make delicious desserts and can be used to flavor teas, lemonades and other beverages. It never hurts to ask your date what his or her favorite flower is and then pick a date spot accordingly! -You should know not every place where you see the word “weed” indicates an edible plant. Be sure to do some homework before going out into the world with containers for harvesting wild edibles.-Check local regulations to make sure you’re not breaking any laws by foraging.
-Protect yourself by wearing gloves when you’re harvesting wild edibles.
-Make sure to follow the Universal Edibility Test before eating any plant that you’re unsure about! This will help reduce risk of poisoning or illness.
–There are plenty of date activities other than food, so if foraging isn’t your thing maybe opt for a picnic date instead? -Pssst…if date night happens to fall on National Lobster Day (July 15), lobster rolls are an awesome date idea. You can even get them prepped ahead of time and have a cooking date right at home! I’ll leave a link here to one of my favorite lobster roll recipes from Rachael Ray. If you want more date ideas check out these date night articles here on YourTango. Also, if you want to see more date ideas you can check me out on Instagram @jessicagottfried or find me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy date hunting!
-Jessica Gottfried is a writer and blogger living in New York City. She also runs her own food travel blog Cutefoodforyou.com where she documents her travels around the world through the lens of food (because isn’t everything better with cheese?). Her work has been featured on Epicurious, Refinery29, Thrillist, The Huffington Post and many other online publications – which basically makes her family’s friends think she’s famous…