On Cooking Wild Greens

The best way to try any ‘new’ food, is to sample the cooking of someone who is familiar with, and used to cooking with wild plants.

I’ve seen it probably a hundred times. Folks start trying to cook with wild plants thinking they can just throw it in a pot and cook it like a cabbage that they bought at the supermarket. Most of the time, that simply isn’t so.

I’ve seen countless people try to eat dandelions in the late summer or early fall, when they are at the ‘peak’ of their bitterness, and the faces they make is just priceless. ;)

Some things are very forgiving, like wild garlic. That can just be used as is with zero pre-preparation.

But most of the people in the Western world are not used to eating what is termed ‘good bitters’. We’ve not been raised on real wild foods. We’ve been raised on cultivated miscellany.

Most folks only know, sweet, sour, spicy, and maybe a few other ‘tastes’. When the real ‘basic’ tastes of normal real food are actually more like 30 or so!

They don’t know the difference between good ‘bitter’ and the ‘it will kill you if you keep eating this’ kind of bitter.

Dandelions are mildly bitter if picked fresh and new in the spring. This is, in my not so humble opinion, the best time to pick and get used to eating them.

They get exponentially more bitter in the summer and fall, as they age. They are best before the blossoms open, in regards to being less bitter.

OR… you could boil them for 5 to 10 minutes, and THEN cook with them. This removes probably 90%+ of the ‘bitter’.

My family doesn’t mind the ‘bitter’, and in fact, we find it quite tasty. So we don’t often pre-boil the greens. Only in the late summer and fall when they become much more bitter than they are now, do we even bother.

The best advice I can give, is find someone who cooks wild foods locally, and become friends with them. They can introduce you into a whole new world of real taste.

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One thought on “On Cooking Wild Greens

  1. We try to stir fry most things. Cooking our food as little as possible is the way we like it best. We carry a small packet of pepper flakes or powdered pepper to add to our food. Most people miss out on the fact that Dandelion greens are edible as well as roquette greens. In the spring we live on Poke Salad and can 5 or 6 dozen quarts of these greens in quart jars. I honestly feel sorry for people who have to have food off the shelf instead of off the land. When i went through survival school in Washington state my buddy and I were the only 2 to not loose weight. We were told that officially no one gained weight during the exercise. Both of us were from the rural south and knew how to forage for food. We had a great time.

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