Edible wild herbs are all those that are used as food. Since ancient times they were exploited, above all, for their unique properties. Even today, these natural remedies are still used, which also bring benefits. In fact, many herbs and plants have effects on both health and mind, let's see in this guide how to recognize them and how to cook them.
How to recognize edible wild herbs?
The most common spontaneous herbs for food use are many, such as:
• the yellow dandelion;
• the field sage in purple flowers;
• the fragrant thyme;
• the amara vitalba;
• purple mallow;
• the rocket;
• poppies;
• the capers;
• mint;
• cumin;
• nettles;
To be able to use them safely, however, we must be sure that we have recognized them. Therefore, it will be advisable to inform yourself by reading and studying special manuals for herbs. Harvesting must always be done in appropriate places, it is better to avoid those that grow along the asphalted roads, this is due to pollution.
When to harvest edible wild herbs?
Wild herbs are used in cooking or even for the preparation of herbal teas, as well as medicinal remedies, oils and tinctures, but not only. Let's see how to learn to recognize and benefit from them. Starting from the distinction between edible and non-edible herbs, we will have to pay attention to certain differences. As for all the plants that grow in Italy, we should know that the harvesting periods are spring and autumn.
To recognize the collection time of the various types, here's what to know:
• Roots: Winter;
• Flowers: Summer;
• Cortecce: Winter;
• Leaves: Spring.
The flowers, in general, must always be picked in summer, this is because the plant will have all its nutrients, since in the summer it ends its reproductive function. Instead, during the winter it is possible to pick bark and roots. The wild herbs must always be harvested early in the morning, when they are still wet by the dew, which was made in the night, so as to have greater vitality. The sun, on the other hand, weakens the leaves and flowers.
How to cook edible wild herbs
When you want to use edible field herbs to cook them, it will be important to know, based on the type of herb, with which method to cook it. Let's see in order:
• Dandelion, known as dandelion, for edible use can be inserted into salads. The leaves should be picked just before preparing the meal, otherwise they will turn yellow, it is important to use only the small ones, since they are tender and not bitter. Otherwise, they can be boiled in a little water, put in a pan with a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and cheese to taste;
• Sage can be used to flavor salads, for omelettes, or simply to fry them in boiling oil and make them batter;
• Anything of mallow can be used: the leaves and flowers can be added to salads, soups, but also for omelettes and risottos, otherwise they can be used as the root in herbal medicine. They should be blanched and sautéed in a pan with a shallot and then they can be used for any type of dish;
• Nettle can be used for risottos, soups, flans and more, it has a rich and aromatic flavor. However, before picking it up it is important to have gloves and a bucket! In addition, nettle is so good for women, since it is rich in iron and chlorophyll, so it is used to fight anemia and strengthen bones and hair. A decoction can be made as a purifying agent, also excellent boiled for soups and soups, but also for omelettes and pasta;
• Wild rocket, on the other hand, is found in its natural state, at the edges of cultivated areas, has a more bitter taste than that which is grown and can be consumed in salads, boiled potatoes but also for pesto;
• Lemon thyme is suitable for making both sweet and savory, its leaves are suitable for flavoring meat and fish, but also edible wild vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergines, cabbage, courgettes, green beans and, finally, peppers. It can also be used to dress baked potatoes, grilled vegetables or pan-fried mushrooms and increase the flavor;
• Mint goes well with vegetables, preferably cooked and seasoned with garlic. They also suit peppers, grilled aubergines marinated with garlic, mint and oil. Mint gives a fresh touch especially to the zucchini in scapece, they are fried in a few moments, just add oil and garlic.