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Edible wild herbs: how to identify, collect and prepare them. This advice will help you

It doesn’t matter if you’re lost in the wilderness or enjoy cooking with new, wild ingredients, recognizing edible plants is an important skill for any nature lover. There are hundreds of delicious and nutritious plants growing all over the country, but there are also many species that can be harmful or even deadly if eaten. We’ll tell you how to identify, collect and prepare edible wild herbs.

Identifying edible wild herbs

Dandelion is one of the edible wild herbs

You don’t necessarily have to know all the poisonous plants, just know what you can eat. Only bite into something you know exactly what it is. It is recommended to verify the identity of a plant by smell. For example, many wild onions grow in the country’s forests and are a good source of food. Your nose can also be useful in sniffing out poisonous, non-edible wild herbs. Avoid anything that smells like almonds, as this could be a sign of toxic cyanide.

Free apps for plant identification

Here we present the most important wild herbs with a picture and brief portrait so you can easily identify them. There are also helpful, free apps to help you identify and collect edible wild herbs. Using your smartphone camera, plants and wild herbs are automatically identified. In bookstores you can also find numerous guidebooks with tips that you can buy.

How to identify edible wild herbs

Dandelion: edible wild herbs are delicious

Edible dandelion is a widely used plant

Dandelion is a common and edible wild herb around the world that has been used as a staple in many cultures for thousands of years, as all parts of the plant are edible at every stage of its life cycle. You should not consume the white milk that comes out. Dandelion is rich in vitamins A, B and C, and is high in magnesium and iron.

A member of the sunflower family, dandelions can be recognized by their smooth and hairless leaves with serrated edges. The stems are hollow and lead directly to an extensive rootstock. Pick the leaves in early spring when they are most tender and nutritious. Harvest the bright yellow buds just before they bloom, as they can quickly turn to seed.

How to prepare tea with dandelion

You can prepare the leaves as a salad or smoothie, but take small and younger leaves because they will taste better. The flower buds can be sautéed in oil and then salted.

Wild garlic: preparation of salads with edible wild herbs

Wild garlic is very popular as an edible wild plant

With its fresh, garlicky smell, wild garlic is very famous as an edible wild herb in the spring months. The season of wild garlic begins in late winter and lasts until the end of spring, although by then it is past its prime. The leaves appear in March and are best picked when they are still young, the flowers – from April to June, and can add a strong garlic note to salads and sandwiches.

Wild garlic has a delicate flavor. The green, pointed leaves and white flowers of this perennial, flowering bulbous plant are easy to spot, making it a good first introduction to edible wild herb foraging. Because wild garlic grows in abundance, it is generally acceptable to pick a small amount. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and made into a delicious pesto that can be served with pasta, salads or soups.

Nettle – perfect substitute for spinach.

Identify and collect nettle

Nettle is one of the most nutritionally valuable wild plants available. It has a rich, mineral flavor that makes it a delicious substitute for spinach or kale. Nettle plants grow to about three feet tall and have dark green, opposite, toothed leaves. Hairs grow on the underside of stinging nettle leaves, which can give a sharp sting to careless gatherers who don’t wear gloves. The stinging nettle grows rampantly along riverbeds in semi-shaded areas.

Nettle is one of the best wild plants

Nettle leaves are quite easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You can eat them fresh in salads if you pick them young, as these leaves do not have the same burning power as mature plants. Otherwise, you can neutralize the burning sensation and slightly bitter taste by steaming, sautéing or boiling the leaves to use in pies, casseroles, stir-fries and pastas. You can also dry the leaves and store them as a tea for winter.

Garlic knapweed: another edible wild herb.

You can use garlic rocket to make a salad or soup

Garlic knapweed is an invasive weed that has invaded almost all areas of Europe and North America and is disdained by gardeners and foresters because it destroys botanical biodiversity in many areas. The seeds will not germinate if planted where garlic knapweed grows. Fortunately, the edible wild herb is palatable to casual gatherers.

Garlic knapweed is easily identified by its rounded, serrated leaf edge, distinctive veining and deep green color. Remember, these plants also produce long, flowering stems with tiny, white, four-petaled buds. It has a distinctive appearance, but if you are unsure about identifying the plant, crush a leaf or two in your hands to release the characteristic garlic aroma.

Garlic knapweed is a perfect edible wild herb

Leaves and shoots are used for salads, pesto, herbal spreads, soups and sauces. Consume garlic rocket raw, as the ingredients responsible for the aromatic garlicky-peppery flavor are destroyed by cooking. For this reason, always add it at the end of the cooking process. The edible wild herb is great for spicy smoothies.