This month’s speaker is Rose Loveall-Sale, owner of Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville. She has an amazing variety of herbs from basil to lavenders and everything in between. She will be talking on ‘Growing and Cooking with Herbs’, and will bring unique and tasty varieties of her 4” herbs to sell after the talk.
Since she will be talking about herbs, I thought I’d share some other edible plants that might be growing in your garden. A new book, to me, is Ellen Zachos’ “Backyard Foraging”, released by Storey Publishing in 2013. I take my information from this book and personal foraging in my garden.
And, of course, before eating anything from a garden, know whether it has been sprayed with any insecticide, fungicide, etc. or any other product that may be harmful if ingested.
One of my favorites is the Hemerocallis, or day lily. Every part of the plant is edible: the petals can be used fresh or dried—use fresh petals in salads and dried (crumpled) for their orange/red color. The buds are used in Chinese hot and sour soup. They can also be added to salads used in place of green beans, with a similar crunch and flavor. Or why not sauté them in olive oil with salt and pepper. The daylily shoots make a crisp, mild spring vegetable.
And then there is the tuber! In the fall, the tubers are large enough to harvest like baby fingerling potatoes: coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Yum!
Many that we probably already know about are nasturtiums, rose petals, dianthus petals, dandelion greens, the fruit from the strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, and the fruit from the pineapple guava, Feijoa sellowiana.
But three that were new to me: the amazing blossoms of the pineapple guava. By carefully picking off each fleshy petal you don’t destroy the emerging fruit. You then have a most delicious bit of marshmallowy, sweet and spicy snack, or if you can resist until you get them in the kitchen, you can add them to a salad.
Who knew the redbud, Cercis canadensis, with it’s early spring, startlingly magenta blooms would be edible? The buds can be used in a leafy green salad, potato, chicken or tuna salad, or sprinkled over ice cream or yogurt. You can also cook the buds and add to muffins, breads and vegetable stir-fries.
The final treat, from the garden is our Rose of Sharon, or Hibiscus syriacus. I raise them in our son’s garden. I use the young leaves flower petals in leafy green salads, also in cold soups. The larger blossoms can be stuffed and served as hors d’oeuvres, after removing the pistils and stamens. The filling can be a combination of yogurt and cream, or cottage cheese, with sweet or savory ingredients to finish the mixture. Elegant!
With all of us susceptible to allergies of some sort, when trying any of these new ingredients, try a few first to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to any of them. I have an allergy to arugula, but it took me a long time to figure that out! With that said, have fun and surprise your family and guests with some unexpected backyard foraged foods.