Wild Edible: Henbit

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) has taken over my garden at the moment. The little purplish pink flowers are pretty and it’s nice to have that bit of color while waiting for other things to sprout, but does it have to grow everywhere? I pull one, and three more appear in its place.

(This post was originally published Spring 2017, but I accidentally moved it to drafts and had to republish it. During the new publish date of July, henbit was definitely not everywhere in my garden and had died back for the hot season.)
Henbit does have one saving grace — it’s edible. It’s not a weed that I eat a lot of, as it’s a bit too “green” for my tastes. I prefer it in smaller amounts, like how we use herbs, rather than larger amounts like vegetables. But at least I know that if the worst happened and my spring leafy crops failed, henbit is an alternative. I’ve finely chopped henbit and mixed it with other greens in a frittata, and soon I plan to try this henbit pesto recipe from The Foraged Foodie.

Wild Edible: Henbit -- How to identify and eat this common weed | The King's Table

Henbit is an annual that grows in late winter or early spring. It’s in the mint family, but it doesn’t taste like mint. Its flavor is more similar to kale. The stems, leaves, and flowers can all be eaten raw or cooked, but older stems can be tough. The clumps of leaves are also chewy, so I prefer them finely chopped or pureed, like in pesto or a smoothie.
There isn’t much nutritional info available for henbit. Unlike your grocery store greens, it’s not well studied. It’s said to be high in iron and various vitamins. In general, wild greens are more nutritious than their cultivated relatives.

How to Identify Henbit

Wild Edible: Henbit - How to identify and eat this common weed | The King's Table

Henbit, before and after it blooms

The easiest time to identify henbit is after it blooms. The flowers are tiny and may be pink, purple, or reddish. Minuscule pink or purple hairs are on the upper part of the flower and small dots are on the lower part. My sister and I used to call them bunny flowers because we thought they looked like rabbits if you turned them upside down.

Henbit flowers | The King's Table

Henbit flowers

The stems are square and green, turning shades of purple, red, or brown as they age. Multiple stems grow from a single taproot and may grow up to 18″ tall. They typically stand erect but may flop over and grow more parallel to the ground.

Wild Edible: Henbit - How to identify and eat this common weed | The King's Table

Henbit – the whole plant

Leaves grow opposite each other and are a little hairy. The upper leaves clasp the stem while lower leaves are attached by a petiole (small stalk). The leaves are round in shape, and the margins (edges) are scalloped with rounded teeth. The veins of the upper leaves are recessed, giving a wrinkled appearance. The upper and lower leaves are typically spaced a good distance apart.

A henbit stem, just before the pink flowers form. | The King's Table

Henbit, just before the flowers form.

There are no poisonous lookalikes to henbit. It’s sometimes confused with purple dead nettle or ground ivy, both of which are edible.
As always with wild edibles, never eat something unless you’re 100% sure of its identification. Also, eat just a couple of bites the first time you try a new weed to make sure you don’t have a reaction. People can have reactions to absolutely anything, even if they’re not prone to food allergies.

Wild Edible: Henbit: How to identify and eat this common weed | The King's Table
Need more pictures or information about henbit? There are articles at Eat the Weeds and Edible Wild Foods.
Can you find Henbit around your home? Have you tasted it yet?
More wild edibles at The King’s Table:
Sheep Sorrel

Free Garden Management Spreadsheets

I’ve had a vegetable garden since 2009, but it’s been mostly haphazard. I kept very few notes about what worked or didn’t work, what I’ve done about pests, how many seeds I planted, etc. It turns out, those things are helpful to know. With a few notes, I can plant an appropriate amount of plants (20 squash plants are too much for 2 people. Ask me how I know.), get ahead of pests before they cause too much destruction, and just overall have a healthier and more productive garden. So, I finally created some spreadsheets to help me stay organized!

Free Garden Management Spreadsheets | The King's Table

The pages aren’t anything fancy — no special colors or graphics — but they get the job done. I created them in Google sheets so that I could access them on any device with internet, and I don’t have to keep up with sheets of paper or remember where I put my garden binder (tried and failed with that).

Just click here to access them. To edit the sheets for yourself, open the link and click “File.” If you have a Google account, click “Make a Copy,” and it’ll send an editable version to your Google drive. If you don’t have a Google account, click “Download as” and “Microsoft Excel.” You probably won’t need every sheet, but I hope something in there is useful for you.

There are 15 pages in the file:
Expenses — All about your garden spending
Seed Inventory — What you have and where they came from
Observations — Appearance of pests, beneficial insects, and other observations
Soil Amendments — Location and amount of fertilizers and soil amendments
Seed Sowing Guide — Your expectations and recommendations for planting
Sowing Schedule — Date, amount, type, and description of what you’ve sown
Transplant Schedule — Sowing, planting, and harvesting your transplants
Perennials — Sprouting, blooming, and harvesting of your perennials
Yield (by variety) — Total yield of one type of plant
Yield (all plants) — Total yield of everything you grow
Weather — Frost dates, floods and droughts, unusual weather, etc.
Varieties — The varieties you’ve tried, which ones you liked, and which aren’t worth planting again
Pests and Diseases — The problems that your plants have encountered and whether or not your solutions worked
Notes — Do’s and don’ts for the next growing season
Wishlist — The things you’d still like to buy or find for your garden
Do you already keep notes about your garden and harvest? Do you prefer to type them or handwrite your notes?

Free Garden Management Spreadsheets | The King's Table

Plant Identification – How to be 100% positive about an ID

Almost every book, blog post, or article about foraging for wild edibles will contain a warning: Do not eat a plant unless you are 100% sure of its identity. The majority of plants are safe to eat, but there are some poisonous ones. And if consumed, some of those poisonous ones can have dire results, including death.

This warning has turned some people off from foraging, because they’re afraid of making a mistake. For beginners, a backyard may look like a sea of green, one type of plant indistinguishable from the next. How can you tell it all apart and know with 100% certainty which is edible?

There’s good news. Plant identification really isn’t difficult once you know some basics.

You can often identify a friend or family member with just a glance because you know their defining characteristics. Hair color and texture, skin color, height, weight, and the way they walk. Plants are the same. Spend some time observing them, noting the defining characteristics, and you’ll be able to pick out your favorites with a quick glance.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.

Plant Identfication - How to be 100% positive about an ID

The best advice for learning to identify plants is to look, look, and look some more. Look at every part of the plant during different stages of its life cycle. Write down what you see and take a few clear photos. Make note of characteristics like the following:

  1. Stems and leaves are hairy or smooth (hairless)
  2. Stem shape – Cut a section of stem and look at the cut part. Is it round, square, or something else? Smooth or ridged? Solid or hollow?
  3. Clear or milky sap – Cut a green stem and look at what comes out
  4. Leaf shape
  5. Leaf margin (the edges of the leaves)   
  6. Simple or compound leaves 
  7. Alternate, opposite, or whorled leaves    
  8. Other leaf descriptions
  9. Color of flower and number of petals (Here’s a more in-depth look at flower terminology.)
  10. Color, size, and shape of nut/fruit (if any) 
  11. Bark pattern (when identifying trees)
  12. Time of year
  13. Environmental factors (dry, wet, hot, etc. which will effect size and speed of growth)

The list of characteristics could go on and on, including things like direction of leaf veins, color of leaf undersides, type of root system, and much more. If you find a plant that you want to identify, make note of every characteristic that you observe and take a few clear photos of different plant parts. Whether you go to an online source or ask someone local, the extra information will help.

Once you know something about parts of a plant, how do you find out if it’s edible or not? There is a treasure chest of resources, including books, bloggers, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos. If you find a local wild foods instructor, start there, since they’ll have info targeted to your area. A few of my favorite books are listed below, but look for a book that’s specific to your region.

Books
Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Plate by John Kallus
Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging, with Easy Identification of 60 Edible Plants and 67 Recipes by Sergei Boutenko

Many foraging bloggers offer great descriptions for identifying plants, like Eat the Weeds, 3 Foragers, and The Foraged Foodie. I also have a Pinterest board: Wild Edibles – Identifying and Using Them. When you read something in a book or blog, compare it with others to make sure the info is accurate. Check multiple sources, since some writers will take from others when they don’t have personal experience.

Plant identification groups on Facebook are a big help when narrowing down plant ID. However, don’t blindly accept what you’re told. Double check the plant characteristics to see if the group has identified it correctly. Try the groups Edible Wild Plants, Plant Identification, Plant Identification and Discussion, and Plant Ident 101. There are also groups geared toward a specific country or region.

There are websites where you plug in the characteristics, and they name plants matching that description. These sites can provide a starting point, though I’ve rarely found them to be spot-on with an ID. Try What Tree is That? from the Arbor Day Foundation and  Weed ID from the University of Missouri. There are also numerous apps offering plant identification, though I’ve never tried them and the reviews are spotty.  Like the sites, they can provide a starting point but double check the responses. A site or app cannot compare to your own observations.

Wood Sorrel | The King's Table

Wood sorrel

All plants have defining characteristics, but they also have characteristics that vary by variety or species. Take wood sorrel for example (in the Oxalis family). One distinct characteristic is the heart-shaped leaves. No matter the variety, the leaves will always be the same shape. But depending on variety, the flowers can be white, yellow, pink, or violet. Bloggers and other writers will write about the type common in their areas. You could be told to look for pink flowers when the yellow flowered variety grows in your backyard. This is why it’s important to find a local wild edibles instructor and to obtain a descriptive book of your area’s plants. Online writers are a good place to start, but local resources can tell you which variety to look for.

Learn about toxic look-alikes. Some poisonous plants look a little similar to wild edibles, so it’s important to know what to look for. You don’t want to assume it’s a different variety of a wild edible when it’s actually a completely different plant. For example, poisonous spurge is occasionally mistaken for the edible purslane. But once you know what to look for, it’s easy to tell the difference.   

Before consuming a plant, it’s important to know which parts are edible, if any special preparation is necessary, the best time to harvest during the plant’s life cycle, and if it’s edible in large amounts or only smaller doses. Just because someone says “acorns are edible” doesn’t mean you should crack fresh acorns and eat them by the handful. Know the details. Yes, acorns are edible, but they need to be soaked (i.e. properly prepared) to remove the bitter tannins.

So, how can you identify an edible plant with 100% certainty? Observe and read. Look closely at the plants, and read what other foragers have to say. NEVER force a plant to fit a description by thinking  “Well, it meets 2 out of 3 characteristics.” Lastly, try a small bite after you’ve positively identified the plant. People can react to anything, so see how your body responds before you eat a full meal of it.

What are your favorite foraging or plant identification resources?

Related Posts:
Identifying Sheep Sorrel
Identifying Henbit

Berry Pink Yogurt Bowl with a Secret Vegetable

Fact: Vegetables are important and nutritious and all that.
Fact: I would much rather have a gooey, sweet cinnamon roll for breakfast than a healthy plate of vegetables.
This is my compromise.

This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here.

Berry Pink Yogurt Bowl with a Secret Ingredient -- an easy way to have a veggie with breakfast | The King's Table

This yogurt bowl has been my go-to lately when I’m craving something sweet for breakfast and don’t want to take the time to bake. The secret ingredient: beet powder.
Vegetable powders are so easy to add to meals. A sprinkle here, a spoonful there. Two teaspoons of beet powder is equal to approximately one serving of beets. The powder is packed with similar nutrition as the fresh stuff, but I don’t have to suffer through a bowl of roasted beets. No offense to you beet lovers, but I haven’t yet acquired a desire for their flavor and texture. Beets are particularly beneficial for the liver and gall bladder, and they were recommended to me a few years ago because of heartburn and digestive discomfort. With all of the other changes I made, I can’t say if the beet powder helped those particular problems, but they didn’t hurt. Beets are also high in folate, manganese, and potassium, among other nutrients.

Berry Pink Yogurt Bowl

Ingredients
1/2 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)

1/3 cup of berries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1/2 to 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract (I prefer 1 tsp almond, but that can be a strong flavor for some people.)
1 to 2 tbsp add-ins, like hemp seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, or ground flaxseed
1 tsp honey (more or less to taste)
1/2 to 1 tsp beet powder — I use Frontier Organic Beet Powder from Vitacost.

Directions
Stir together the yogurt, vanilla or almond extract, honey, and beet powder. Top with berries and add-ins.
Sit in a peaceful spot and enjoy!
Besides the yogurt, I bought all of the ingredients from Vitacost. They often have good sales, and you’ll receive free shipping for purchases over $49. Start at Top Cashback, and you’ll receive a percentage of your Vitacost purchase back.
What are your favorite add-ins or flavorings for yogurt?

This post is linked to the Healthy Living Party at A Bountiful Love.

3 Years with a Hugel Bed: Lessons Learned

A hugel bed (also known as hugelkultur) is basically a garden bed filled with logs. In theory, the logs will absorb rainwater like a sponge, allowing for less frequent watering of the bed. As the logs break down, they provide a steady stream of nutrients. To make a hugel bed, dig about a foot down into the soil. (To avoid digging, some people have just built the bed on top of the soil or created a small frame like a raised bed.) Place logs, branches, and sticks into the trench. Cover the logs with upside-down turf, grass clippings, compost, manure, leaves, etc. Top with soil and mulch, and then plant your seeds.

3 Years with a Hugel Bed: Lessons learned about gardening and hugelkulture | The King's TableFor a more in-depth look at hugelkultur, check out Inspiration Green. It shows some successful beds and gives recommendations for types of wood. RichSoil.com also has good advice about hugel beds.

Some people report amazing success with hugel beds, and others declare them as failures. I’ve had mediocre success but have learned a few things along the way that should make the bed perform better in the future.

1. Mulch doesn’t like to stay on the bed. I’ve tried combinations of leaves, grass clippings, weed cuttings, and wood chips. All it took was one storm to wash the mulch to the base of the bed. Leaves were the worst choice, and grass clippings held on the longest. Dense plantings help keep the mulch in place.

2. Some plants have grown well for me on the hugel bed and other plants haven’t. Kale, radish, and lambsquarter have been the most successful. Tomatoes and squash died from lack of water after the mulch disappeared. Plants with deep taproots can be planted toward the top of my hugel bed, but shallow-rooted plants do better near the base.

3. Hugel beds = shaded areas. The height of the bed causes various areas to be shaded throughout the day. If planned correctly, this can be helpful during the hot summer months.

4. Mice love the hugel bed. There are crevices between the logs that dirt didn’t fill in, so I find new mice holes in the side of the bed every year. There are fewer crevices as the dirt settles and the logs decompose, so I’ve only seen one hole this year. The mice haven’t caused a problem except the time they dug a new hole near a plant and uprooted a couple of radishes. My bed has about 3 layers of logs. To prevent mouse-sized crevices, I should have added compost, manure, or soil in between the layers of logs instead of just on top.

5. Ants love the hugel bed during wet weather. When the soil is too wet, ants turn to the hugel bed for protection and build mounds on top of the bed’s mulch. I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on them, which caused them to move their mound 2 feet over. They think they’re clever, but I have a 25 pound bag of the stuff.

6. Some people theorize that the logs will trap nitrogen in the initial stages of decomposition, causing a nitrogen deficiency in the plants. I haven’t found this to be the case, but I occasionally water the beds with diluted urine just in case.

I haven’t found the hugel bed to be as user-friendly as a regular garden bed, so I’ll keep it but I won’t build another one. Or maybe I’ll figure out the trick to a successful bed and change my mind.

Do you have a hugel bed? What are your thoughts and experiences with it?

Wild Edible: Sheep Sorrel

I was weeding a garden bed this morning and found new sprouts of sheep sorrel. It’s tasty, so I considered leaving it, but it can also be invasive. My desire for spring vegetables won, so the sorrel was pulled. But no worries, it’ll pop up somewhere else.

Sheep sorrel is a great weed to know. With easily recognized leaves that taste similar to lemons, they’re often the first wild edible that people learn.

Wild Edible: Sheep Sorrel

Sheep Sorrel was originally the common name for Rumex acetosella, but nowadays, it may also refer to Rumex hastatulus. With similar shaped leaves, the two are often confused. Other common names are Sour Grass or Sour Dock. Rumex hastatulus is also called Heartwing Sorrel. Both have edible sour leaves, so the photos of this post may be of either variety.

Both types have pointy-tipped leaves with a pair of lobes pointing outward from the leaf base. The leaves are hairless and typically have long petioles. They are shimmery when viewed in the sun, as if someone sprinkled fine glitter on top. The leaf shapes have been compared to arrowheads, swords, and sheep heads – hence the name Sheep Sorrel. The narrow part of the leaf is the head, and the lobes are the ears. The size and shape of the leaves will vary greatly based on growing conditions.

The photo below is of new leaves, which grow in a basal rosette close to the ground. They emerge in the cool weather of early spring or fall. The presence and distinction of the lobes may vary on young leaves, but they often become more pronounced as the plant ages.

sheep-sorrel1

Smaller, narrower leaves grow along the stem of the plant. Stem leaves grow alternate of each other, and often don’t have as defined of lobes on the sides (shown below).

Sheep Sorrel Leaves

The tiny flowers on the stalk turn shades of red as they mature. If you’re driving along and see a field speckled with red, it may be sheep sorrel, like in the photo below.

Field of Sheep Sorrel

The flowering stems are ridged and often tinted red. Most sites say sheep sorrel flowers from March to November, but this will vary by location. I’m in zone 7 with summers up to 100 degrees F, and the plants die back in the mid-summer heat. I normally see flowers in late spring and mid to late fall.

Flowers of Sheep Sorrel

Both Rumex acetosella and Rumex hastatulus are typically grown as perennials. R. acetosella is native to Eurasia and the British Isles but is now common through much of the US. Its roots are more mat growing, and the flowering stems rarely get above 18 inches high. R. hastatulus is native to North America. It has a taproot and grows 2 feet tall or more. R. hastatulus has winged seeds (hence the name Heartwing Sorrel) while R. acetosella does not.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Over consumption (massive amounts) can cause abdominal cramping, stomach pain, or diarrhea. If your doctor has put you on a low oxalate diet, consumption of sheep sorrel is not recommended. When cooking sorrel, cast iron or aluminum cookware is not recommended, as the metal can cause a metallic taste by interacting with the oxalic acid of the leaves.

Sheep Sorrel Leaves

The roots can be dried, and then made into a tea or powder. Supposedly, this powder can be used to make noodles, but I haven’t found anyone who has tried this yet. The seeds are also edible, but they are too tiny to do much with.

So why consume sheep sorrel leaves? Mainly because they taste good (if you like sour things), but they also have many purported health benefits.

What is it good for?

Sheep sorrel contains vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and a small amount of zinc. It is also an excellent antioxidant and contains compounds that may be effective against bacteria, viral infections, and intestinal worms.

Traditionally, the leaves have been used for inflammation, as a diuretic, and for help moving food through the digestive tract. A tea made from sorrel roots has been used to improve diarrhea and excessive menstrual bleeding. However, few scientific studies have been done to see if the plant is as effective as herbal practitioners have claimed over the years.

Rumex acetosella is a main ingredient in the cancer-fighting Essiac tea. The best decoctions use 25% of the root and 75% aerial parts, but products with the root are uncommon. The leaves can be harvested multiple times, but digging up the root kills the plant. It’s not profitable for farmers to harvest the roots, and the varieties that use the root are expensive because of this. (To buy with sorrel root, here’s the Regular Essiac Tea and the Extended Essiac Formula.)

How can you use the leaves?

I have a few suggestions:
1. Toss a few raw leaves in a salad or smoothie
2. Steep the leaves in a tea
3. Make Sorrel Sauce for Seafood or Cooked Vegetables from Mother Earth News
4. Use recipes that call for garden sorrel or other sorrels, such as this Sorrel Soup from Leda Merideth

Have you tried sheep sorrel? Do you eat other wild edibles or weeds?

Why Are Healthy Foods So Expensive?

Americans, myself included, are used to cheap foods. That’s one area of our budget where we feel we have some control and can reduce spending. But perhaps it’s this mindset that needs changing, since you get what you pay for. Would you consider buying a car that falls apart from the smallest ding, just because it was cheaper? Not likely. It’s a poor value for your money, and it’s unsafe. We can’t survive without eating, so why don’t we put the same priority on food? That bag of cookies with nutrient-depleted wheat, sugar that’s stripped of all nutrients, chemical preservatives, and artificial flavors is the cheap car.

Why Are Healthy Foods So Expensive? | The King's Table

Still, the question remains: Why are healthier foods so much more expensive?
First, a definition of healthier. It could mean no artificial ingredients, organic, grass fed / pasture raised animal products, or produce grown in nutrient-rich soil. Each definition has different factors that influence price.

1. Subsidies – The Biggest Reason

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) distributes approximately $25 billion of tax money every year to the farming industry. A subsidy is money given by the government to farmers and farm-land owners to assist them. The initial idea was so the price of food would remain low and competitive, and farmers would be able to make decent wages even if crops failed. Unfortunately, the idea has been corrupted. Downsizing Government has a more in-depth look at how subsidies are abused, if you’re interested.
Subsidies are provided for over 100 crops, but a few of the main ones covered are the ubiquitous wheat, corn, and soybean. These subsidies mean select foods can be super cheap for the consumer, like the junk foods that rely on these ingredients. But in a roundabout way, subsidies discourage farmers from finding the best practices, so crops may be grown in nutrient-depleted soil and sprayed with plenty of chemicals.

2. Organic costs extra for the farmer and food manufacturer.

“Certified organic” is a legal term, and growers and producers have to undergo inspections in order to use it. This can be a costly process from several hundred to a few thousand dollars, along with a certification fee that must be paid each year. That’s not counting any extra expenses for meeting organic requirements, such as researching new pest management techniques or finding sources for organic ingredients.

3. Modern ingredients have been bred to have higher yields.

If you start looking for nutrient-rich varieties like our ancestors had, you’ll end up paying more because farmers get less per plant or animal. Many modern varieties of grains, produce, and animal products have been hybridized or manipulated for higher profits, often to the detriment of nutrients. Examples of products with inferior nutrient profiles are modern wheat bred to have more grains per stalk, super-sized tomatoes that travel without bruising, and animals that fatten faster than their grass-fed counterparts.

4. Chemicals are cheaper than the real deal.

Healthy foods are flavored with herbs, spices, whole foods, and healthy fats, and the costs for those add up. It’s cheaper to have an alternative, like MSG or a flavor packet (listed as artificial flavors) to mimic the real foods.

5. Whole foods have a short shelf life, so more is wasted.

Junk foods have preservatives, which equals a longer shelf leaf and a longer opportunity to be sold. Fresh whole foods may go bad within a couple of days, and farmers and food sellers have to price items so that they don’t take a loss when products are wasted.

So what do you think? Is the higher price worth it? Can you think of other reasons that healthier foods are more expensive?

Einkorn Wheat – What It Is and Why I Use It

Einkorn Wheat | The King's Table

Einkorn has been eaten for thousands of years, but it’s come back to the mainstream only recently. It was one of the first crops domesticated by farmers about 10,000 years ago, and it fell by the wayside as hybridization led to wheat strands with higher yields. Wheat has undergone the most change over the last 100 years, and modern wheat is now very different from the original einkorn. These changes have produced a wheat that is harder for many people to digest, thanks to a different gluten profile (among other differences). Jovial Foods, the company responsible for reintroducing us to einkorn, has much more info about the grain. Those with a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity may be able to eat einkorn. It varies from person to person. However, it’s not recommended for those with Celiac disease. Einkorn contains a different protein profile, but it stills has gluten.

This post contains affiliate links. See full disclosure here.

Because einkorn has a smaller yield than modern wheat, the cost is higher. Is the expense worth it? For me, definitely so. If I eat modern wheat for 2 consecutive days, I feel miserable. Everything aches, my chest burns, and my mood is “you better stay away from me!” I don’t get like that with einkorn wheat. Okay, I might have those effects if I ate einkorn every single day for months, but I’m not going to try that.

I buy Jovial brand of whole einkorn berries from Amazon when it’s available and grind it into flour at home. You can also buy the flour or berries from Vitacost (get cashback if you shop through TopCashBack), Tropical Traditions, and Einkorn.com.

It needs to be said that baking with einkorn is different than using modern wheat. Since the gluten profile is different, breads and such don’t bake quite the same. It’s a very sticky flour when wet, and less liquid is sometimes needed in recipes. The founders of Jovial Foods have taken care of this problem, too, and produced an einkorn cookbook.

Have you tried einkorn yet? If you’ve baked with it, did you find it difficult to use at first?

The Edible Radish Plant – How to Eat More Than the Root

It’s almost time to plant radish seeds in my area, and as always, I wonder if this will be the year that I learn to like the root vegetable. I’ve tried it a few different ways, and the only time it’s okay is if it’s completely hidden in a dish. But that’s okay, because I don’t grow radishes for the roots.

Update: I like the root now, too, as long as it’s fresh. I had been letting the radish sit in my fridge for a few days before deciding what to do with it, and the quality quickly deteriorated. I like them raw on sandwiches, cooked in the air fryer, and shredded to cook with hashbrown potatoes.

Did you know the entire radish plant is edible?

Edible Radish Plant

The leaves, flowers, and seed pods can all be eaten raw or cooked. They have a peppery flavor, like a milder version of the root vegetable. If you’re like me and don’t like the root, try the above-ground parts.

Most varieties of radishes have little prickly hairs on the leaves, especially as the plant gets older, so I don’t recommend them for salads. Fortunately, the prickliness disappears when cooked or when the raw leaves are pulverized, like in this radish leaf pesto from Chocolate and Zucchini. The flowers and flower buds make a pretty last minute addition to salads. The blooms wilt quickly, so refrigerate them if you’re not using them immediately.

Radish Plants

Flowering radish plants, after heavy winds blew them into a tangled mess.

Radish leaves are tender, especially when young, so cook them in recipes that call for other tender greens (like in place of spinach). You can pick leaves individually throughout the growing season, or you can harvest the leaves all at once when you gather the roots. Separate the stems from the root vegetable during storage, or else the bulbs will continue to draw moisture and nutrients from the leaves.

Now for my favorite part of radish plants: the seed pods. They’re crunchy, like a peppery version of a sugar snap pea. They’re great in salads or as a snack with vegetable dip. I’ve also chopped and added them to cooked dishes like stir-fries, chicken pot pie, and vegetable soups. The peppery taste disappears with longer cooking times, so they add something green to the chicken pot pie and soups but don’t contribute much to the flavor. Seed pods will be ready to pick about 2 months after planting. Depending on the size and texture you want, they can be harvested shortly after they appear or you can wait a week or so until the seeds have developed more.

The stems are technically edible, but I’ve never tried them. I imagine they’re rather fibrous and tough, but they could probably be juiced with other vegetables for a homemade V8.

Have you eaten the above-ground parts of the radish plant, or are you ready to? How would you cook or serve it?