Foraging the Garden – Unlikely Edibles, Part 1

When word of a lockdown started buzzing across the nation, my brain went on prepper mode. If we couldn’t go out for weeks, would we have everything we needed at home? While I can’t say that I came face to face with my inner hoarder, I can say that the impulse to panic buy bucked and reared, ready to gallop straight to the nearest warehouse store.

Unfortunately, all this went down right before we were to do our weekly grocery shopping. Taking stock of our fridge, I could tell our supplies were running low. And while our cupboards boasted enough packaged and canned goods to last us a week (mainly items I tended to ignore since they weren’t favorites), the fruit bowl was beginning to collect dust and a desolate wind was whistling through the barren vegetable crisper.

Obviously, there was really no need to panic buy since the stores remained accessible. For a few minutes though, I had to rack my brain for ideas on how to make our then-meager supplies stretch. With the absence of fresh produce, I also had to think about other ways to source fruits and veggies.

Thankfully, we have a small garden, and it can provide us with some healthy edibles if the scenario we were anticipating had been realized. With my exaggerated perception of the situation’s urgency, I was googling “edible weeds” and “edible mushrooms” (not that we’ve ever come across an edible kind in our garden). Thankfully, pansit-pansitan (in English aka pepper elder, shining bush plant, man to man), which we often get, is always featured in the list of wild edibles. 

However, a really exciting discovery for me (because I’m a plant nerd; also, I’m lame) is that we can eat mulberry leaves. I know you can feed them to livestock (I wish I had goats. 🙁 ) and you can brew them for tea, but I didn’t realize we could eat them as leafy greens. According to several posts I came across in my local gardening Facebook group, you can pluck young leaves and fritter them as you would making crispy kangkong (Chinese water spinach), make laing (he’e lu’au in Hawaiian – we don’t need to make this with octopus in the Philippines) with them instead of taro leaves (you won’t have to worry about your tongue possibly itching either), and stuff them as you would grape leaves.

Since I tend to like most fritters, that’s the first option I tried. You basically make crispy mulberry leaves the same way you cook crispy kangkong. It mainly involves egg, cornstarch, flour, cold water, and seasoning. I tried frittering talinum (fameflower) leaves as well, which I have a lot of, but I think they’re too soft. I’ll stick to just mulberry leaves next time. Or throw in some actual kangkong as well. Since the last frittering attempt, I’ve grown both lowland and upland kangkong.

I didn’t know I’d be blogging about it, so the pictures aren’t very appetizing. I just sent them to my family to show them, hey, you can do this! 

In the same eating-off-the-land/foraging-my-garden vein, I will also post about making pansit-pansitan salad and sprouting chia seeds for microgreens.

If you also forage your yard for food, please share your finds and what you do with them. 🙂

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...