Browsing the archives for the herbal medicine tag.


Garlic Mustard Horseradish

General Posts, Herb, Medicinal, Raw, Recipes
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Garlic Mustard Greens emerging from the ground.

Garlic Mustard Greens emerging from the ground.

Today I harvested garlic mustard for the spicy white roots to make a horseradish-like condiment.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive plant, brought to America in the 1860’s as a culinary herb. It spreads like wildfire and often will displace native mustards and cresses. Many parks hold days where people can come volunteer to pull out garlic mustard so it doesn’t take over other native plants. This is one weed no one will mind you pulling!

Now is a great time to use garlic mustard: the leaves are tasty and not too bitter, as the weather warms the leaves get more bitter and lose their spicy garlic mustard flavor.

washing the garlic mustard in a colander

washing the garlic mustard in a colander

To make the condiment, harvest the entire plant, and wash the roots well. The roots are white and have a horseradish-like smell. They will taste spicy.

Garlic mustard roots

Garlic mustard roots

I chopped the roots:

Chopped Garlic Mustard Roots

Chopped Garlic Mustard Roots

I blended the roots in a food processor with a bit of salt, a couple teaspoons of water and about 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and blended until it looked like horseradish: (It stung my eyes! Pretty spicy…)

Blended in a food processor with a little water, salt and apple cider vinegar

Blended in a food processor with a little water, salt and apple cider vinegar

Here it is, in a jar:

Garlic Mustard "Horseradish!"

According to Chinese Medicine, the spicy or pungent taste of horseradish and garlic mustard enters the Lung meridian, and is known to clear the sinuses and help the body get rid of respiratory infections. (For more on Traditional Chinese Medicine and health, visit our sister website Birch Center for Health.)

Here in Pittsburgh, wild edibles are just emerging from the ground. Today we also found nettles! What is popping up where you live? We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks!
Melissa Sokulski, acupuncturist, herbalist
Food Under Foot

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Seasons Change To Summer…

General Posts, Herb, Identification, Look-Alikes, Medicinal, Poisonous or Toxic, Tincture
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I just love watching what happens to the plants around me as the seasons change!

Here in Pittsburgh, it is getting HOT, summer is here.

With it bring a whole new crop of wild edibles, herbal remedies, and poisonous plants to watch:

Here is the St. John’s Wort, (Hypericum perforatum) now if full bloom. In the picture I am demonstrating that if you crush a bud in your fingers, you get a dark red pigment, which is the Hypericin - one of the active ingredients in St. John’s Wort.

st. john's wort

st. john's wort

Now is the time to harvest St. John’s Wort to make oils or tinctures. The oil is great to soothe sore muscles, ease jangled nerves, and treat sunburns. The tincture of St. John’s wort is used as an anti-viral, and also an anti-depressant. In fact, in European countries like Germany, St. John’s wort is used to treat depression more commonly than the prescribed medications like Prosac, which are used more in this country.

Here is Queen Anne’s Lace, or Wild Carrot:

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace

Even though the greens of carrots are full of nutrition, and the root of this plant has a distinctly carrot-like smell, we do not eat this plant at all! That is because it so closely resembles the deadly poisonous Water Hemlock and Poison Hemlock, that we do not feel it is worth the risk of making a mistake. We tell everyone who comes on our walks that it is our policy NOT TO EAT wild carrot, and we strongly suggest they do the same.

Here is a poison plant: Pokeweed. It’s berries are not fully ripe yet, they will get dark purple/black when ripe. Pokeweed is eaten (mostly down south) when it is just shooting from the ground in early spring. Now it is TOXIC, and the berries are highly poisonous. It is used, however, as a dye:

pokeweed

pokeweed

Here is one of our favorites, yummy plantain (Plantago major). We love to use the green leaves of this plant in smoothies, chopped in salads, and marinated and dehydrated into yummy crisps. Here you see the stalks. In the fall (once they turn brown) we will collect the seeds of plantain and use them just like psyllium seeds (which is from another Plantago: Plantago psyllium and Plantago ovata, both of which grown in the middle east.)

Plantain

Plantain

We’ll use these seeds just as we would use psyllium seeds: as a thickener for puddings and sauces, and also added to oatmeals and breads. In Chinese medicine, the seeds are used to treat urinary tract infections.

We’ll have more on our virtual summer wild edible walk tomorrow…please stay tuned!!

~ Melissa

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