Thursday, May 31, 2012

eating common lambsquarters - chenopodium album

I've been on a salad kick lately.  In the winter months it's all hearty soups and bread, but when the weather warms, you know how it is, you crave food that is fresh and light.  I had noticed some plants in the yard that I was pretty certain were lambsquarters (or lamb's quarters or goosefoot...some people call this pig weed too, a name assigned to several weeds...let's just call them chenopodium), and knew them to be edible.

I compared them to my field guides and checked them on Wildman Steve Brill's website, and it seemed I did indeed have myself some chenopodium.  You can see by the shape of the leaves why it's also called goosefoot. 

The youngest leaves have a waxy powder on them that is easily wiped off, and the plant has no discernible scent when crushed.  Epazote, a look-alike, smells resinous.

Chances are, you've seen these because they seem to grow everywhere...even in my potted plants.  (by the way, those are the onions I re-grew a few months ago)

As for taste, they're really good!  They're mild and green and perfect in salads.  You can use them like spinach either fresh or cooked.  I like them well enough that I added a row of them to my garden.  Adding weeds to my garden?  Of course!  Any nutritious and free wild edible as tasty as this can hang out in my garden.  Even though there isn't exactly a shortage of it in my yard...

When I pick, I take a few younger leaves from this plant then that plant...never pick all the leaves from only one plant if you want to keep them growing in your yard.

We were in the mood for a sweeter salad last night so we tossed our chenopodium with some lettuce from our greenhouse, a handful of wood sorrel, wild rose petals, one whole apple, a handful of nuts, and dried cherries.  Delish.

Have any of you tried chenopodium?  If you haven't, do you think you will?  It's amazing to me just how many "weeds" out there are so useful once one starts to identify them.

p.s. We gather only wild plants that we can positively identify and only from areas that we trust to be free of pesticides, run-off, and other ickiness.   The occasional bug or clod of dirt is okay with us, but chemicals are not. blech. 


Tumus said...

I actually have such an abundance of this in my own area but once more can not eat it due to the fact that the lawns in my area are sprayed :( I have wanted to try this one for a while but am afraid if I willing planted it it would simply overrun everything. It's easily re-cultivated by just turning the soil over, not that you'd ever run out with what you have :)

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

R - yeah, the sprayed lawns thing... I'm grateful we're not in that situation. Another plant in the chenopodium family has been cultivated by ancient peoples, as far back as 3000 years ago as a pseudo-cereal. Isn't that cool?

julochka said...

i can't wait to hang out at your house! i'm gonna have to go out and see if i have this plant, it doesn't really look that familiar (except the one in the pot), so i'm not sure. but i'm training my eye. i didn't realize i had curly dock either and it's all over the place!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have that growing all over the farm. Maybe I'll have to try it this weekend. That salad of yours looks so delicious!

Annie Cholewa said...

The 18thC entomologist chap whose biography I'm writing has a lot to say about collecting wild herbs ... it seems to have been common then to pick and eat what grew along the way, and very tasty it clearly all was!

Christina said...

Lovely post as always! Yesterday I picked a handful of young leaves of lambs'quarters from our backyard and cooked them with rice, garlic, onion and spearmint leaves. Tasted yummy! Goes really well with homemade sheep yoghurt! Thank you for sharing your experience with foraging, dyeing and discoveing the beauty of life - it is inspirational indeed!


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