Wild herbs and edible weeds are free nutritious food, packed with vitamins and minerals. Now is a good time to go foraging for dandelions, nettles and other edible weeds. Here are a few easy ways to use your wildcrafted herbs at home:
1. Add leaves and flowers to salads: dandelion leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals, and the young green leaves are a great nutritious addition to salads. Dandelion flowers are edible too and add color to any salad. Red clover and white clover flowers have a sweet flavor and both the flowers and the green leaves can be added to a salads. If you’re picking yarrow, mix a few green leaves into your salad; the leaves have a peppery flavor and contain many important minerals including magnesium.
2. Use nettles in any recipe that includes spinach, either replacing all of the spinach with nettles or using part spinach and part nettle. Nettles are packed with iron and many other minerals, and they are great blood purifiers. It is best to cook the nettles quickly to remove the stinging effect! Or try nettle pesto: if you’re making a traditional pesto with basil, substitute a part of the basil leaves with nettle leaves.
3. Use your foraged herbs to make your own herbal infusions. Here is a recipe for a homemade herbal detox infusion for the spring!
4. Dry some of your wildcrafted herbs for the winter. Some of the nutrition will be lost in the drying process, but dried herb mixes ensure that you can enjoy your own herb teas or your DIY herb mixes throughout the year. I make my own herb mixes with dried nettle, dandelion, yarrow leaves and other edible weeds depending on what I can find, and I also add whatever herbs are growing in the garden: basil, parsley, thyme and marjoram are my own favorites. I dry the herbs and chop or grind them, and I use the blend in the winter to add extra flavor and nutrients to soups, stews and almost any foods. You can even add dried nettle or dandelion to bread dough!
5. Wildcrafted herbs are also fantastic in DIY skin and hair care products. Try making your own dandelion infused lotion or make a hair rinse with nettles to add shine and strength to your hair: place a handful of nettles in a jug or a jar, pour a liter (about 2 gallons) of boiling water over the leaves and leave to infuse until the water cools. Filter well and use to rinse your hair after you have washed and conditioned it as usual. Use the nettle rinse as your last rinsing water or leave it in your hair for about 20 minutes and rinse it off with plain water.