This plant is called Fat Hen (latin name Chenopodium Album) and it is widely considered a weed.
I am one of those people who think that there is no such thing as a weed, all plants are useful and have a purpose, even when we might not know it. We modern people have lost the ability to gather wild foods and the knowledge that goes with it. I would like to reclaim that knowledge and I’m starting small and easy with this herb, which is one of the first to grow on newly dug soil.
It is a very delicate plant and wilts very soon after picking, you can eat the leaves but you have to cook them, and picking the leaves from the stems is not as easy as opening a bag of pre-washed spinach, so this is why people are ignoring this free food.
Pick young plants that have not gone to seed with unblemished leaves, don’t pick too much and if you’re not sure that you’re picking the right plant, DON’T pick anything at all! Remember this plant should not be eaten raw.
I prepare the leaves, rinse and wilt them in a pan with a couple of teaspoon of water.
I have used the leaves in risotto, added to potatoes and as a side dish with some olive oil, if you’re not vegan they go really well with cream cheese.
Fat Hen is very similar to spinach, but it’s free!!!
I discovered that fat hen was edible by reading a little book in the River cottage handbook collection titled “Hedgerow” (it’s number 7 in the serie).
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