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Edible wild herbs
Many delicious Wild herbs are healthy. They drain the body, help against fever, headaches or gastrointestinal complaints - and they are largely unknown as kitchen plants today. In this article we present a number of valuable herbs from naturopathy.
Salad shrink-wrapped in plastic, rocket from the discounter or spinach from the freezer are placed on the kitchen table, "weeds" in the organic bin. Most hobby gardeners now avoid the lethal injection to destroy wild plants, but even today in many gardens every month lands on the compost that an entire family could feed on.
"Weeds" from the pharmacy
We still know sage, rosemary, parsley, marjoram or chives, at least in pots from the vegetable counter. Lemon balm, lavender or mint do not bear the stigma "weeds."
But what about nettle and Giersch? Who has ever tried a delicious chickweed, plantain and dandelion salad?
For expensive money, we buy preparations that contain substances from precisely those plants that we remove with fire enthusiasm as "weeds" in our garden. Pluck nettles out and at the same time get us nettle capsules from the pharmacy if we have a problem with the prostate? It's like buying organic apples while the fall fruit is rotting in our garden.
Health-conscious people swear by superfood from Peru and Indonesia, but they leave the black currants and blueberries on the doorstep aside.
Food and medicine
Our ancestors could neither use modern medicine nor use the previously very expensive spices: nutmeg, pepper, cardamom or ginger cost a fortune and were still reserved for the rich in the early modern period.
For this, people resorted to what was growing on the doorstep, as food, as a seasoning and as medicine - often all at the same time. Wild herbs, flowers and trees provided variety in the kitchen.
What to look out for
When we collect wild herbs in our own garden, we usually have the necessary tools there: we need an airy basket or cloth bag, not a plastic bag, otherwise the herbs will become mushy.
First, with a knife or scissors, we can better separate the plants, and second, we avoid destroying roots when we only need leaves or flowers.
More than half of all domestic herbs are edible, others are inedible or poisonous. Therefore, the same applies as for mushrooms: we only collect plants that we know. If we have doubts, we especially avoid those that have toxic doubles. It is best to keep an identification book with us.
We do not collect plants that are under nature protection in nature, and we do not collect in nature reserves, but on public meadows.
We do not collect on busy roads, dog meadows or fields that are sprayed. We wash all plants thoroughly before we prepare them.
Sorrel grows where it is damp: on pond banks, rivers and on damp meadows. The leafless stems have red flowers. The leaves have a slightly sour taste and are suitable for a special note in vegetable soups. We use the young dark green leaves, wash them thoroughly and cut them into narrow strips that we put in the brew.
Chickweed knows bird keepers as an important forage. The minerals and vitamins are not only good for birds, the Miere is also an excellent addition in salads. The taste is similar to fresh peas. We can pick the chickweed until autumn, but the youngest shoots before flowering are the most vitamin-rich. Chickweed grows in the garden, on the wayside, in fields, wherever there is enough sun and free space.
To pick nettles, we should put on gloves so the hairs don't touch the skin. When we bring the tender leaves to the boil, they no longer burn.
Nettles are half vegetables, half seasoning, because soup or salad give them a slightly earthy taste, but they are not intrusive. We can also make tea from nettles. Folk medicine has used nettles for centuries against urinary problems and rheumatic diseases.
Giersch is a dominant ground cover. The three divided leaves in lush green adorn the garden like ivy, but Giersch spreads unchecked, it quickly overgrows all shady areas.
The young leaves are suitable as a salad and give it a fresh note. Giersch goes well with potato salad - and gratin, but like spinach it can also be stewed as a vegetable and thus serves as an unusual accompaniment to fish and chicken.
If we don't mow the lawn too often, Gundermann will soon spread, a low plant with heart-shaped leaflets and blue-violet flowers. The leaves taste tart and spicy and can be used in a variety of ways: like arugula on pizza, in a soup or steamed as a vegetable side dish. The king of wild herbs - Because we can also put the leaves and flowers on envelopes, so they help to heal external wounds.
Ribwort is just as common as dandelion and grows wherever grass grows, especially as the name suggests, along the wayside, but also in every garden that we don't spray dead.
The taste is not for everyone, but lovers appreciate a note that is reminiscent of wild mushrooms. Plantain can be stewed as a vegetable or used in soups such as salads.
We can also squeeze the juice out of the leaves and spread it on itchy skin.
Watercress grows naturally in rivers or shadows.
It is best to sow them in the garden in a shady watering hole. We can also pull cress under damp blotting paper, in the garden shed or even in the basement.
Cress is a nutrient bomb, full of vitamin C, minerals and beta-carotene. We can sprinkle them raw and washed on cream cheese, season a quark with them or add them to a salad. Cress has a spicy taste of its own.
Shepherd's purse becomes knee-high, blooms white and loves sun like nitrogen. In nature it inhabits clay, sand and gravel soils. The taste is reminiscent of arugula and the herb is suitable for salads or as a topping for quiches, pizzas and baguettes or as a tea.
Everyone knows dandelions from their own garden. It works well as a vegetable, but is too bitter for many. The young leaves are milder, but we can eat the whole plant. Be careful with the white juice in the flower stems: it leaves stains on clothing that are difficult to remove.
Dandelion drains, so it helps with kidney and liver problems and cleanses the blood.
Meadow hogweed is similar to the caustic giant hogweed that burns the skin. The dangerous relative grows up to three meters high and its leaves are much more pointed than those of the native herb.
The meadow hogweed only grows to a height of 1.5 m, and the young leaves can be harvested from May to July. We always wear gloves when picking. Because the local species also causes the skin to itch and redden slightly.
Prepared this is no longer a problem. Hogweed tastes a little like celery and is suitable as a seasoning vegetable in soups such as sauces, with pasta, rice and potatoes. It also supports digestion, lowers blood pressure and helps against menstrual pain.
We appreciate artichokes as antipasti or on pizza and are annoyed with thistles in the garden. Artichokes are flower heads of a type of thistle, and we can prepare the domestic thistles in the same way. The roots can be cooked, the ovaries taste a bit like walnuts, and the leaves also taste good.
We collect donkey thistle, gold thistle, nodding thistle and scratch thistle in the garden or on the wayside. They are high in protein and calories.
We can cook the fruit heads and put them in oil, and cook the leaves like roots in stews.
Lemon balm originally comes from the Middle East, but is now widespread throughout Germany. Once it settles, it quickly covers larger areas. We harvest the wild herbs from July to October.
We can dry the leaves, but they taste much better fresh. Lemon balm smells and tastes sour "like lemon" and gives dishes and drinks a fresh, sour taste.
Fresh leaves enrich cocktails, summer bowls and desserts, they can be easily processed into jams, and hot and cold teas with lemon balm taste excellent.
We can also put the leaves in a hot full bath to create a citrus scent on our skin and also relax our body. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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