Wild Herbs – Fresh from Nature on the Table

In spring and summer, numerous wild herbs sprout in gardens, forests, and meadows. What is a nuisance for some gardeners means culinary enrichment for others. Because whether as a tea, spicy pesto, smoothie, or tender vegetable side dish: wild herbs can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. Many are rich in vitamins, minerals, and bioactive plant compounds and have healing properties.

These wild herbs are suitable for the kitchen

  • Nettles are said to help with many ailments – from arthrosis to bladder problems to high blood pressure. They taste best as a tea or smoothie, as a soup, or as a vegetable. Nettle tea has a revitalizing effect, especially when you are exhausted.
  • Dost (wild marjoram) can be used as a spice. To do this, strip off the leaves and flowers, dry them, and chop them.
  • Daisies (flowers): The pretty little flowers taste nutty and are particularly good for edible decorations. When dried, the flowers, which are available almost all summer long, can also be enjoyed as tea.
  • The flowers of goutweed can also be used as an edible decoration or as an aromatic soup seasoning. The leaves can be used in salads and pesto, and eaten cooked as a vegetable. Goutweed also has an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Garlic mustard sprouts again in summer after flowering in May. The fresh leaves have a garlic flavor and are good for pesto or as a herb.
  • Bedstraw is a good ingredient for salads and smoothies. To do this, use the tips of the shoots, including the blossom and leaves. As tea, bedstraw is also used as a medicinal plant. It is said to have a diuretic effect and alleviate skin lichen.
  • Dandelion stimulates digestion, helps with feelings of fullness or flatulence, and has a diuretic effect. It is also rich in vitamin A. Tender, young dandelion leaves are suitable for salads or as an ingredient in a green smoothie.
  • Plantain helps as a medicinal plant against coughs and relieves insect bites. For consumption, it can be used as a herb for soups, as a herbal tea, or in a salad. The flower buds are best eaten raw before flowering or steamed in oil. When cooked they add a mushroom-like flavor to food, and raw they taste slightly nutty.
  • Sorrel: Its leaves contain a lot of vitamin C and taste slightly sour, a little like rhubarb. They can be eaten with other herbs as a salad and add a delicate touch to desserts. It is best to only use very young leaves and not eat them in large quantities because sorrel contains a lot of oxalic acids, which can be harmful to health.
  • Chickweed is suitable as a salad, for smoothies, or cooked as a vegetable. The plant contains many minerals and vitamins – such as iron and vitamin C.

Tips for collecting wild herbs

If you collect wild herbs yourself, you should follow a few rules. The most important thing: only collect what you really know. Because some poisonous herbs grow here too, such as hemlock, which can easily be confused with the non-poisonous cow parsley. In addition, some herbs are protected and may not be picked. Special plant guides for wild herbs from bookstores or corresponding apps are helpful. Experts also offer herbal tours, where participants learn to identify the plants.

Avoid pollution

Because of the pollution, you should not collect herbs that are directly on the streets. The same applies to field edges, where the herbs can be contaminated by pesticides. You should also avoid plants that thrive in dog parks. All plants that grow in nature reserves are also taboo. If you have your own garden, you can plant wild herbs there instead of looking for them in nature. Special seed mixtures are commercially available.

Harvest sustainably – do not damage roots

Never rip out herbs by the root, but cut them off with a knife or scissors. Airy baskets or linen bags are suitable for collecting. At home, wash all herbs thoroughly before processing. Some herbalists advise that the best time to harvest herbs is around midday. Then the content of essential oils and thus the active ingredient content is at its highest.

Store wild herbs in a cool and moist place

Like all herbs, wild herbs should be processed as fresh as possible. If they do need to be stored, it is best to wrap them in damp kitchen paper or a tea towel and store them in the fridge. So they keep for a few days. They can be kept for a longer time if you freeze them, although some lose their flavor as a result.

To freeze the washed and dried herbs, either place them whole in a freezer bag and seal tightly, or cut them into small portions and place them in portions with a little water in ice cube trays. It is important to always label the herbs well, as they are easy to confuse when frozen.

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