Wildly Bitter?

You’ve heard that many weeds are incredibly healthy to eat, haven’t you? But they don’t really taste that great, do they? Despite all the reassurances that your taste buds will adjust over time – and they really do! – after years of eating greens picked in their natural habitat I still prefer the taste of homegrown greens like lettuce. Here’s how I’ve incorporated those healthy wild greens into my diet anyway.

My first approach was hide and cover! If you chop them small enough and mix them into something like a smoothie or raw chocolate pudding you hardly see or taste them, especially if you combine them with fruit. Less hiding is necessary in pesto and salad dressings where you use plenty of chopped herbs anyway.

As I got more used to wild herbs, I added larger quantities and again was faced with their strong taste. But over time I also discovered that they have very different tastes. They’re NOT all bitter! By categorising the wild herbs –

  • Mild base/foundation greens – e.g., chickweed, plantain
  • Bitter greens – e.g., dandelion, sow thistle
  • Salty greens – e.g., seaweeds
  • Sour greens – e.g., sorrel, dock
  • Peppery greens – e.g., cress, mustard

– I realised I could pick them according to the dishes I had in mind. As a base for a salad, soup, dressing or pesto I always pick the majority of weeds from the mild category. Then I pick a few leaves from each of the other categories. Every meal tastes best if you include at least a bit of each of the flavours: bitter, sour, salty and sweet. There are also sweet green leaves like stevia, but I have yet to find sweet-tasting herbs growing wild in my garden. I would love to know if you have some! Send me a message by email or facebook.

Apart from a well-rounded taste, mixing the flavours also gives you a good mix of nutrients.

And finally I add more greens of one category depending on the flavour I’m after. For example if I’m making lemon pudding (smooth avocado crème with lemon juice and citrus fruit pieces), I add more of the sour greens like sorrel to the avocado-lemon-crème in the blender.