From Giersch to Gundermann, kitchen ingredients grow right at your doorstep. Experts advise slowly approaching the kitchen of wild herbs. Because at first, wild plants can have an unusual taste.
Many wild weeds are unwelcome in gardens. Then why not just eat them? On salads, in lemonade, herb quark or in pie fillings and quiches, they add color and variety to the kitchen—not just in summer. Wild herb cuisine is not only delicious, but also sustainable and healthy.
Healthy wild herbs for the kitchen
Whether it’s daisies or dandelions: Edible plants can usually be found without a long search. “The nice thing is that wild herbs grow on our doorstep. You just have to look,” says Anja Fischer, a Salzburg herbalist, who writes in her nature blog Daisy & Sunshine about how she explores the area with her children.
On her tours and Discovery Book for Families, she wants to spark curiosity about meadow grass. “I always say in my courses: wild herbs are better than organic.” Wild herbs do not need to be carried away and do not require any packaging. They also typically contain more vitamins and minerals than cultivated vegetables, says cookbook author and YouTuber Martina Merz.
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Fry dandelion sprouts with garlic
Many plants from the wild herbal kitchen are old friends. The whole dandelion plant can be used, for example, says Anja Fischer. “Dandelion hearts, the thick, fleshy part between the root and stem, can be used as a substitute for artichokes and seasoned in vinegar and oil. That’s great.”
Salads are made from the leaves and stems, and the flowers are used as garnish. The buds of the plant can also be used. Martina Merz recommends sautéing them in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkling Parmesan or toasted buckwheat on top.
Slowly approach unfamiliar tastes
At first, the taste of wild herbs may be unfamiliar, she says. “It extracted the bitter substances from our cultivated vegetables, so we are no longer used to them.” She recommends getting close to them and gathering a few herbs to sprinkle on salads or have them with potatoes and quark. “It’s also good to mix it with things that balance out a slightly bitter taste—fat, sugar, eggs, or cheese. For example, feta and wild herbs go well together.”
Plants that are not particularly popular in many gardens are also suitable for the kitchen of wild herbs – such as groundweed, sageweed or stinging nettle. “I actually prefer to eat herb sauerkraut in salads. It tastes like fluffy baby corn.”
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But you can also make a great soup or pesto out of it. Or mix a handful of them into smoothies,” says author and herbalist Marion Reinhardt, who gives workshop tours of the wild herbs of the Forth region under the name “Wild Mohr.”
Lemonade and colorful flowers in summer
She uses the leaves and blue flowers of ground ivy in moderation. “It’s a bit polarizing. Some spit it out right away, others find it very tasty and aromatic,” says Reinhardt.
Goutweed proves so versatile: “You can use it almost year-round and do a lot with it—a mixed salad or soup, for example. You can cook it like spinach, but you can also use it as a filling for a pie or a quiche.” She prefers making lemonade out of it: a bigger crush. Possible leaves with thick stems, put them in water and leave overnight. “It’s very refreshing and thirst quenching,” says Marion Reinhardt.
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Anya Fisher says chrysanthemum lemonade is delicious, too. To do this, she cooks a syrup with sugar and water in which the flowers of her favorite plant are soaked for two days. On warm days they make water ice – with little daisies in it.
Nettle Trick: Beat Stinging Hair With Hot Water
Like nettle, nettle is versatile. “This is a wonderful plant that no one wants but is always around. So I would suggest simply eating it,” says Anya Fischer. She uses it to cook porridge, stir it into dumplings, eat it fresh in salads or make soup with it. She recommends picking the leaves with gloves to avoid burning yourself.
“If it is burnt with hot water, the stinging hair is inactivated.” If you want to eat the leaves fresh, you can roll them with a rolling pin or a bottle so that they do not burn. Stinging nettle seeds can also be harvested from August. “It has a lot of magnesium and iron and it tastes delicious. You can simply put it fresh in salads, dry it or lightly toss it in butter, and sprinkle it on risotto, muesli, porridge or bread and butter,” says Martina Merz.
With material from dpa