Chickweed produces tiny, tear-shaped leaves and dainty, white, star-shaped flowers. The flowers look like they have 10 petals, but if you look closer you can see they actually consist of five, deeply indented petals. This is an important identifying feature.
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Look for chickweed in spring and cool weather, as this isn’t a heat- or sun-loving plant. You’ll find it growing in woods, meadows, roadsides, lawns or shady garden spots – usually places that have been disturbed. Chickweed may grow in full sunlight, but it flowers and goes to seed quickly. When conditions are just right and temperatures aren’t too warm, you can harvest the plant for up to six weeks.
To harvest chickweed, grab a handful and pull the bunch straight up. Locate the tips of the plants and cut the upper six inches or so with scissors or clippers. Leave the base and lower stems, which tend to be a little on the tough, stringy side. Pick out grass and other less palatable plant matter, and you’re good to go.
Have fun and use your imagination, because the sky is the limit when it comes to using chickweed in the kitchen.
The plant is tastiest when used fresh. You may be tempted to dry it like an herb, but it doesn’t last long and loses its nutritional qualities quickly. Instead, store chickweed in the refrigerator as you would spinach or lettuce. If you harvested more than you can possibly use, freeze it and add it to soup stock or other hot dishes.
Salad is the obvious choice for using any type of green, and it’s a good way for beginners to experiment with this tasty wild plant. Snip chickweed into small pieces and add it to a green salad along with grated carrots or beets. Other tasty and nutritious additives include sunflower seeds, nuts, parsley, chives or other wild greens like watercress.
Stir chopped chickweed into omelets or scrambled eggs. Chickweed pairs just fine with mushrooms, onions or other veggies.
Steam chickweed much like spinach or other greens. Make it quick, as overcooking causes loss of valuable nutrients. You can also add chickweed to your favorite stir fry.
Create a chickweed sandwich. For example, pile a handful of chopped chickweed on a slice of tasty bread and sprinkle it with a little sea salt or drizzle lightly with olive oil, balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice. You can always add chickweed to a tuna sandwich, or pile on bacon, tomato or avocado.
Blend chickweed into a smoothie. If you want a super-nutritional treat, combine chickweed with other wild plants like nettles, watercress, lamb’s quarters or dandelion leaves. If you aren’t wild about the slightly earthy flavor, try adding fruit. Any type is great, but citrus fruits like pineapple and orange are especially delicious.
Have you eaten chickweed? What advice would you add on picking and eating it? Share your tips in the section below:
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