Monday, June 7, 2010


Everyone has edible weeds growing in their yards. Some are blessed with dandelion, others clover or violets. Some have gardens teeming with chickweed and lambsquarters. Unfortunately for us, our most common edible weed is plantain. Edible, yes. Easy to identify, yes. Yummy, not really.

Plantain is a common first food for new foragers because it is easy to find and not easy to confuse. But its leaves are not super tasty (kind of like past prime, yellowing, spinach leaves) and rather tough.

Still, we have tons. So, I went around the yard while Thag mowed our field and picked the youngest, smallest, greenest leaves I could find. Then I put them through the food processor to pre-chew the tough leaves, until they were super fine and threw them in a stir fry. The result, not bad. In general, I give plantain a 2, but shredded and mixed with other veggies, it adds bulk and nutrition to a meal.


  1. The seeds of plantain are also edible, so give them a try once they appear in summer. You strip them off the stalks, then heat them gently in a pan with some salt and oil. They're crunchy, nutty, and nutritious. They'd be a nice addition to pilaf, or maybe in something that requires breadcrumbs, like meatballs. Also, plantain leaves can be crushed and applied directly to mosquito bites, and will instantly stop their itch!

  2. Kristina,
    Thanks for reading and commenting. Baby Yub-Yub has horrible reactions to mosquito bites. We'll definitely put your suggestion to the test. I'm excited to know about another edible use for plantain too. They're so abundant, that I just want them to be good. Let us know if you find any good plantain seed recipes.

  3. yes, I just cooked up some plantain stalks and they were absolutely *awesome*

    I breaded them in a cornmeal-flour mix and fried them on low (with a bit of extra breading mix) while covered for a bit. Halfway through, I uncovered and added some gravy and stirred slightly, then covered again for an additional time.

    They are a little bit messy to eat in this fashion, I grabbed one end of the stalk and just chewed it, and if the stalk was young enough to be soft, it was easy to eat in this fashion. Otherwise, I just pulled off as much of the seeds and juice out of the stalk as possible, and discarded the tough stem.

    I imagine stripping off the stalks would make the eating portion slightly easier and the preparing portion slightly more difficult, I haven't tried cooking with only the seeds, so I don't know how much harder it is (probably not much), but I really enjoyed my experiment today.

    The leaves, cut fine, are also awesome in a soup prepared in a slow cooker-- they add a rich vegetarian broth flavor that, at least in my experiment, went great with pork bone vegetable soup. I also cut up young seed stalks small and put them in miso soup, also to great effect.

    Anyway, side note, I just found your blog and am very interested to follow along! This summer is the first time I've really gotten into foraging myself, and I'm having quite a bit of fun.

    Plantain and Jewelweed are both great at stopping stinging or itching from mosquito bites or nettle-- I usually use Jewelweed because it's juicier and usually grows right next to nettle, but trials with plantain also relieved some of the irritation.

  4. Maybe it's how you cook the 'plantin' (as old-timers around here call it). It's really the best I find to pick the early plantain and cook down with like spinach with a little salt or bacon grease, I find it terribly tasty with mashed potatoes. It was always a treat for my family to got 'plantin pickin' for we'd have a nice picnic and tea while we made a day of it...