When most of the wild greens are gone for the winter, chickweed (Stellaria media) will always provide. You can’t stop it if you try. To be honest, like a sterotype child I sometimes have to be forced to eat my greens, even if it is me who does the forcing. So here is how it works: I make a sandwich and head out the door, grab a handful of chickweed from the current wildness of the shared apartment block herb garden and throw it in. In the picture below it is with burningly garlicky hummus and marinated roast capsicum made on the weekend. The Squeeze bakes the bread. Time out of my day: 15 seconds. Foraging is in the spare time; now it’s time to get a kid to daycare and me to a desk, but 15 seconds I can obviously do.
Chickweed is yet another one of those surprisingly under-utilised foods. Many vegetable gardens would have more of this taken out as a weed over winter than conventional vegetables (at our community garden there is something of an unwritten rule that at least it goes to the chickens – who adore it). It is juicy, tender and mild, with a favour from close to nothing to having a little tart edge to something that does somehow manage to be an undefined taste of a weed. Or perhaps that is just the taste of raw greens – like I say, I’m no connoisseur. Richard Mabey (in Food for Free, the indisputable British wild plant food bible) prefers it simmered and finished with butter, lemon juice and seasoning including a little nutmeg, as an accompaniment to rich meat. The Cribbs (in Australia’s equivalent bible Wild Food in Australia), also describe it as mild and benefiting from butter and lemon. Earthwise Herbal will tell you that is close to a heal-all. Ted Manzer, botanical font that he is, will tell you just about anything you might need to know about it (here). Me, I don’t know much, except that if I can bring some very healthy fresh greens to my diet with it, most people can.