Saturday, June 2, 2012


My spice cabinet is full of little bottles, carefully sealed, but with the masking tape lables worn off or illegible. While most of what's in the spice cabinet can be easily identified by smell, that is not always the case.

Out in the yard, there are two weeds that look very much alike, except that one has thick fleshy leaves and the other has flat leaves that hug the ground. Which is purslane, an excellent source of vitamin C?

Purslane (the thick fleshy one) is a delicacy in some areas where it is commercially farmed. In many areas, it's a weed.
I'm sure you've seen it, but a former co-worker got all excited about it and asked me for seeds. She keeps it on her porch in a planter. It tastes like bland lettuce, but the texture is weird.

If you have an urge to go out in the wild and see what's there, carry a good identification book and NEVER eat or otherwise consume anything unless you've positively identified it.

Various types of alliums (onion family) are toxic. Others are used everyday in the kitchen. All are virtually identical to the untrained eye. Queen Anne's Lace (Wild carrot) is edible (sort-of) and medicinal but a nearly identical cousin (poison Hemlock) is toxic.

I identify in the wild and if I want to try something I see I buy it from an ethical grower and put it in my herb garden.

Knowing what's around us will be important in the future, but until we can't get what we need from another source I'll leave the wild herbs alone. Ethical wild-crafting is a subject for another day.

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