Sometimes life throws us some curveballs. You know like things not being on the shelves in the stores, or we get lost in the woods somewhere. When things like that happen, it’s always important to find food and water to survive. One way we can survive is knowing what things in the wild are edible.
So, I asked myself, “Can I eat Plantain, also known as Plantago Major? And, if so, how?” Now I’m not talking about the fruit. I am talking about those leafy green weeds. Here’s what I found out!
Please note: Please be careful before you take the “plunge” into foraging wild edible weeds. They may look like a certain edible weed, but may not be the actual one. I highly suggest you buy one of the following books or one that you feel comfortable with to forage edible weeds safely.
Can I Eat Plantain (Plantago Major)?
The short answer to this question is YES! This weed is found all over the world and in particular the U.S. It is a persistent weed that can be challenging to control. So, if you can’t beat it, you might as well eat it. Not only is this pesky weed edible, but it is also quite nutritious.
These weeds that you can find in your yard can be eaten entirely. You will find that the younger leaves are the tastiest. Some people eat the entire shoot of seeds once the flowers are done. The seed pods can be eaten raw or cooked.
What Does it Look Like?
Plantain has oval-shaped leaves that are slightly egg-shaped. They have parallel veins that run on each leaf. Additionally, there are small, inconspicuous flowers that grow on the tall spike part of it. Each stem is thick and is stringy, which is similar to the strings you find in celery.
Health Benefits of Plantain
Originally, plantain was considered an herb that was used to treat a variety of conditions, including coughs, congestion, nausea, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea. In addition, some herbalists have thought that Plantain could level out cholesterol numbers and help control blood sugar.
Plantain leaves made into a tea contain antibacterial properties that make it an effective treatment for things like skin irritations, bites, cuts, scrapes, sunburn, and poison ivy.
Along with being used medicinally, Plantain is rich in vitamins and nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Although this weed is safe to eat and use, if you are trying to treat an illness, always seek medical guidance from a doctor.
What Plantain Should I Pick?
Plantain is a leafy green that is edible. When picking Plantain, you want to be careful which ones you pick. Here are some tips:
- Do not use pesticides or herbicides in your yard.
- DO NOT harvest any Plantain that is close to a road. They can pick up pollution from cars.
- NEVER harvest any Plantain from an industrial lot, or any space where past pollution might have been an issue.
- Do NOT harvest Plantain from a yard where chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers have been used.
How to Harvest Plantain
It is best to harvest your Plantain early in the season. You want to look for new shoots of the plant. The younger shoots make for a light asparagus-like flavor and the leaves are sweeter and tastier.
Can I Eat Plantain Leaves: How to Harvest
To harvest your Plantain leaves, cut the leaves free with a pair of scissors. Snip the leaves at the narrowest part of the stalk. You want to leave the root section behind. This way the leaves will grow back and replenish your supply. If you want to harvest a whole patch, gather the leaves from the bottom, lift them up, and cut across the stalks all at once.
Can I Eat Plantain Seeds: How to Harvest
You can find the seeds to the Plantain in small pods growing at the tips of the slender flower stalks. Pick the seeds when they have turned black or brown. The green seeds will be too tough and fibrous to eat.
How to Eat Plantain
As stated above, Plantain can be eaten in its entirety. You can use them raw in any way that you would for spinach. You can put it in salads, on sandwiches, or anywhere you like.
You can also eat Plantain by cooking it. For larger, older leaves, this is ideal. A quick blanch or a light stir fry helps to tone down the bitterness of older leaves. It also softents the veins. Additionally, you can blanch the leaves so that you can freeze them and use them in soups or sauces later. A saute will enhance the asparagus taste of younger leaves.
Even the seeds are edible in this weed. When the flowers have finished, people will eat the entire shoot of seeds. You can eat the seeds raw like you would peanuts or cashews, or you can eat them cooked. Be sure to peel the fibrous chaff back from the seeds themselves before eating or cooking them. Plantain seeds have a nutty, slightly spicy flavor. So, they are good by themselves or in tea.
Can I Eat Plantain: Plantain Recipes to Try
If you are looking for some good ways to use the Plantain growing in your backyard, here are some great recipes to try:
- Plantain Salad
- Plantain Stir Fry
- Soup with Plantain
- Puerto Rican Pasteles
- Baked Plantain
- Keto Fish in Plantain Leaves
- Plantain Chips with Herbal Salt
Plantain Herbal Recipes
As stated above, Plantain has been used medicinally as well. Here are some great recipes for treating certain ailments:
- Homemade All-Natural Poison Ivy Salve
- Plantain Leaf Healing Balm
- Plantain Cream for Bites and Stings
- DIY Plantain Body Scrub
- Simple Healing Salve
How to Store Plantain
There are two ways you can store your unused Plantain: store it in the refrigerator or dry them to store them.
Store in the Refrigerator
To preserve your freshly-picked Plantain leaves, you can store them in the refrigerator. Wrap them loosely in a layer of damp paper towels and then put them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can also put them in an airtight ziplock bag. The leaves can keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.
Dry the Leaves for Storage
To preserve your freshly-picked Plantain by drying them, press them between two broad, heavy surfaces to flatten them out. Then, set the leaves out in direct sunlight for several hours. Or, you can put them on a baking sheet and bake them at 150 degrees until they are brittle to the touch. When leaves are dry, store them in a lidded jar or airtight ziplock bag. Drying them can make them last as long as 1-3 years. Grind them up when ready to use.
Can I Eat Plantain: Other Weeds You Can Eat
Along with Plantain, there are a variety of other weeds that are actually edible. Check them out, below!
#1 Red Clover
The red clover is not the traditional 4-leaf clover. Instead, it is the pinkish/purplish flower that covers the fields in color. The flowers and leaves can be eaten in salad and other dishes. If you haven’t yet, check out my post “Can I Eat Red Clover” for more details.
If you haven’t checked out my post “Can I Eat Dandelions,” you should? It tells you everything you need to know from health benefits to harvesting and cooking.
Purslane is one of those super annoying weeds that can grow anywhere, including your sidewalk cracks. But, it is actually edible. If you haven’t already, check out my post “Can I Eat Purslane” to find out all you need to know.
Lambs Quarters is one of those other super annoying weeds. But, they are actually edible and really good in salads and other recipes. Check out our post Can I Eat Lambs Quarters to find out all the ways you can eat them.
This garden weed can be harvested for both food and medicine. The chickweed leaves, stems, and flowers are eaten both raw or cooked. It can be eaten much like you would eat spinach.
Mallow or Malva is also known as cheeseweed because it is shaped like seed pods. It is found in lawns or garden beds throughout the United States. The leaves, as well as the seed pods, are edible raw or cooked.
#7 Wild Amaranth
Wild amaranth is also known as pigweed. It is another great addition to dishes that require leafy greens. The younger plants are typically softer and tastier than the older leaves. However, older leaves can be cooked like spinach.
#8 Curly Dock
Curly dock is also called yellow dock. The leaves can be eaten raw when they are young, but need to be cooked when they are older. The stems can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked. Additionally, the seeds can be boiled, eaten raw, or roasted into coffee. It’s recommended to only eat these in moderation.
So now you know you can eat Plantain (Plantago Major). Knowing what weeds you can and cannot eat could help you in a dire situation. And, if you have a problem with weeds in your yard, you can get rid of many varieties by eating them. What weeds have you eaten? What did you think?
Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below! If we can identify the weeds that we can eat, just think of the possibilities! Please keep prepping, we must. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Plantain Deposit photos_52123125_s-2019, Plantain Leaves Deposit photos_114960922_s-2019, Dandelions Deposit photos_197788372_s-2019, Red Clover Deposit photos_25633895_s-2019, Purslane Deposit photos_116520078_s-2019, Lambs Quarters Chenopodium album Depositphotos_362096836_s-2019, Chickweed Depositphotos_195249732_s-2019, Mallow Depositphotos_186081472_s-2019, Amaranth Depositphotos_325233254_s-2019, Curly Dock Depositphotos_256444932_s-2019