Wild Edibles of the Mediterranean Winter: Wild Beet Greens

Wild Edibles of the Mediterranean Winter: Wild Beet Greens

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wild beet leaves

In my small yard, in central Israel, I depend no less than seven edible wild species: mustard; nettles; chickweed; sow thistle; goosefoot; mallows, and wild beets. These, and different wild edibles, are native to the Mediterranean. We’ve written about nettles and mallows, and about growing chickweed at home. Today I’m specializing in wild beet greens.

Right now, late winter within the Levant, is prime time to forage beet leaves. I’ll hold harvesting them till mid- or late March. In North America and Europe, wild beets (and lots of different wild edibles) turn out to be accessible months later, in springtime by summer season.

I like coming out of the home within the morning, nonetheless in pajamas, making my strategy to the tangled plot the place the wild beets elevate their leaves. Quickly, I reduce sufficient younger greens to fill a quiche, improve a soup, or make a easy stir-fry. I go away the basis alone as hardly being worthwhile harvesting: it’s a spindly white factor, greatest left within the soil to push up a a brand new cluster once more subsequent yr.

If I get frightened that I’m over-harvesting my yard, all I’ve to do is take a stroll round my neighborhood, and I’ll discover loads of wild beets. The soil right here is heavy, a mixture of clay and sand, which beets love. I discover them in deserted heaps and on the facet of roads, some already fairly mature.

These wild beets are the foremothers of Swiss Chard, recognized right here as Mangold. They develop from a single level within the floor, and their leaves fluctuate in measurement, the younger ones being smaller and decrease down on the stalk. They’re triangular to oval, with scalloped edges, very shiny and darkish inexperienced, with deep, lighter-colored veins working by them. As the plant matures, the stalks tackle the acquainted crimson colour.

wild beets

And no, beet greens aren’t associated to spinach, nor do they style like spinach. Their style is much like Swiss chard, naturally. Still, you may swap beet greens for spinach in any recipe: soup, quiche, omelets and fritattas – you identify it.

Nutrition? Beet greens have loads of nutritional vitamins Ok, C, and A. Minerals in them value mentioning are magnesium, some iron, and calcium. Lots of recent inexperienced fiber, too.

I’m already pondering of summer season, when the panorama right here will likely be sere and brown, and the late-winter greens may have died away. To protect some for the summer season, I reduce extra greens than I want, rinse them in cool water and look at them for any little freeloaders like snails, which additionally love the nice and cozy, damp circumstances of the Mediterranean late winter.

Then I chop the greens, sauté them with onions and garlic in olive oil, and freeze them. Now they’re prepared to make use of in nearly any dish. Alternatively, I set the leaves out in a dry, shady place and allow them to dry totally. I crumble the dried leaves into soups and stews.

There’s just one security warning with wild beet greens themselves: the big, mature leaves are are greatest prevented by individuals with kidney stone points, as they’ve a comparatively excessive oxalic acid content material. The small, youthful leaves rising farther down the stalks are high-quality. I eat the younger leaves as typically as I like, with no hurt finished.

However, it’s essential to remember the fact that at first look, some very poisonous wild crops resemble wild beets. For instance, lords and women, recognized right here as loof. I’ve learn stories of individuals gathering wild mandrake leaves too, mistaking them for wild beets. Look for dark-green, very shiny leaves. Other crops aren’t so shiny.

Always make 100% certain that you simply’ve recognized your foraged greens accurately.

I like the Moroccan-based chickpea and spinach soup, during which I swap wild beet greens for the spinach. Find the recipe here.

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