One of my goals last summer was to have plenty of options available for salad making this time of year. In general, to have anything in the garden ready to eat this time of year requires advanced planning – there isn’t enough light or warmth plus any seeds planted right now will probably rot, especially in my garden, since even the raised beds are goopy wet right now (my paths are so mucky they threaten to hold my boots with each step). Right now I have plenty of the expected greens like kale, collards, spinach and corn salad, but I also planted some weirder things to try. Now it is time to taste test.
The photo above is of a primrose a friend gave to me last summer and it is just starting to flower. The lemon yellow flowers are cheerful this time of year, but the real reason I wanted to try growing primroses is because I heard the flowers are edible. I was watching Tutor Monastery Farm, a reenactment of late medieval English farming and Ruth Goodman, one of the hosts, raved at how good primrose flowers tasted, so I decided to try them. Try them I did, and I have to say they aren’t fabulous. Their flavour is rather plain, not offensive, but not something that would stand out. I think the flowers would be quite pretty in a salad, but not add tastiness.
Above are the leaves of salad burnet – a perennial I started last spring with a long history of culinary use. It’s a pretty plant which has produced a mound of small leaves that stayed green all winter. The leaves are supposed to taste like cucumber, and they do a little bit. A leaf on its own is rather strong, however mixed with other greens salad burnet makes a nice salad component. The real bonus is, this plant is a perennial, so I don’t have to remember to plant it each year which works well with my laziness plan.
Last April, I did a taste test on the purple deadnettles that spring up all over my yard. They were flowering at the time and I determined they were flavourless with a weird texture. Since, I have a lot of these plants popping up in my garden right now (they are an effective pioneer plant) and, like the primroses and salad burnet, they have a long history of being eaten by people, I decided they deserved a second taste test – this time of the new growth. Nope, the new growth isn’t any better, I’ll save this plant for after the zombie apocalypse.
I have a couple of wintergreen plants outside my office window to add green this time of year. When the plants get big enough I’ll try making tea from the leaves. This year, one of the plants grew a handful of red berries, since they are also edible I gave them a try. I found the berries weird because they didn’t taste anything like any other berry I’ve tried. They tasted like, surprise, surprise, … wintergreen – that almost minty flavour found in chewing gum (this plant is the origins of that flavour). I actually enjoyed eating a few of the berries, but I don’t think I’d want a whole bowl full.