When Morels are Nowhere to be Found; Winner, Winner, Chickweed Dinner

“Dinner” is a bit of an exaggeration. More like chickweed side salad to go with a dinner that I had hoped would include fresh Morels.  It was my first time picking or eating chickweed so it is still fun and exciting enough for me to write about.

I have always wanted to learn more about foraging for early Spring greens. Last weekend I found an old issue of Mother Earth News that included an article about wild greens. The article sparked my interest and led me to research chickweed identification. I immediately went out and found chickweed growing in our yard but the plants were already blooming and too old to eat.

This picture shows another edible, hairy bittercress growing with Chickweed. Wild bitter cress

 

Today, while out looking for morels, I walked past several patches of chickweed that had just started blooming. I ignored the pretty little greens until I decided to give up on finding mushrooms. I did not want to leave empty handed, feeling like a loser, so I decided to pick a bit of chickweed.

Chickweed is easily identifiable and readily available in yards, woodlines, empty lots and roadsides. This weed is everywhere right now; Free Salad!

Chickweed is a mild, slightly sweet green with tiny spinach like leaves. I made a very simple salad with it tonight because, I wanted to appreciate the little weed. I wanted to get to know the flavors of chickweed and I must say, my little salad needed more. More what? Hopefully, I’ll figure that out with my next chickweed harvest. I enjoyed eating the tiny delicately flavored leaves.  But I think chickweed would be best mixed with earthy greens or possibly spicy sprouts. This beautiful little green could be great on toast with ricotta, or used as a fresh pizza topping. I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying chickweed many ways and I will be updating this post with a great chickweed recipe in the next few weeks. UPDATE

Chickweed Identification *

Chickweed bloom

  • Tiny white blooms that look like 10 petaled blooms, but are in fact, made of 5 split petals.
  • A row of fine hairs running down only one side of the stems.
  • sometimes upright, sometimes spreading, depending on light and conditions.

*These are just a few of the  identifying traits of chickweed. Thoroughly research any wild edibles, and please be certain of their identities before consuming them. I’m not an expert; just someone that likes to eat forest food. This is not a thorough identification guide.

Chickweed Foraging 

  • Look for young chickweed in early Spring, preferably  plants that are not in full bloom yet.
  • It is best to cut only the top 2-3″ of the stems because the bottom of the stems could be tough.
  • Chickweed growing in partial shade will generally be more tender than chickweed growing in full sun.

 

I plan on picking plenty of chickweed in the near future. Because I’m sure I will pass more chickweed patches,while searching for my favorite forest food, mmmmmmorels.

 

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