Corn Salad, a Tasty and Nutritious Wild Edible

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Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) lllustration
Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) lllustration
(Photo by:
Otto Wilhelm Thomé /Wikimedia Commons)

The inconspicuous corn salad plant (Valerianella locusta) was once considered a weed. It’s native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia where they can be found growing freely in grain fields. In fact, the name corn salad came from the fact that this plant usually grows as a weed in corn fields. But in the 17th century, a French royal gardener started cultivating it and introduced it to the world. It’s especially wonderful to use in salads because of its nutty flavor and soft texture.

Edibility and culinary use

This plant’s dark green leaves are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re typically mixed with other greens in a salad. These leaves have a mildly sweet and nutty flavor, giving it the nickname “mayonnaise of salad greens”. For a delicious salad, pair with a light vinaigrette, oil, or lemon juice as dressings. Corn salad also pairs well with boiled eggs, carrots, tomatoes, beets, fish, and almost all cheeses.

Alternatively, you can also cook this vegetable as you would with spinach. They can be sauteed or added into soups and stews. Just like with spinach, be careful not to overcook corn salad to preserve its mild flavor.

Health benefits

This plant is one of the most nutritious leafy greens out there. Corn salad is very rich in beta-carotene which plays a big role in maintaining immunity, eyesight, and good skin health. It’s a wonderful source of vitamin C which helps the body maintain and repair cells, prevent cardiovascular diseases, and improve the immune system. Vitamin B9 is also found in corn salad. It’s particularly important for growing children and pregnant women because it promotes cellular renewal.

Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) Harvested Leaves
Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) Harvested Leaves
(Photo by: Schwäbin/Wikimedia Commons)

It’s also a good source of minerals, such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Corn salad is full of fiber which promotes a healthy digestive system. This leafy green also contains lots of phytonutrients and antioxidants which can protect you from cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Cultivation

Corn salad is an annual plant that grows well in cooler temperature. In fact, it’s considered a winter vegetable because the harvest period usually lies in early fall and the entirety of winter. Growing this plant in your garden will provide you with delicious leafy greens all year round, including when there aren’t many other greens available. Moreover, corn salad is easy to grow and requires low maintenance, great for beginner gardeners.

Corn salad grows best under full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade. This plant isn’t fussy and can grow in almost any type of soil. But, it will thrive better on nitrogen-rich soil. Before planting, make sure to prepare the soil by adding lots of manure or compost. After the plant has settled, fertilize every 2 or 3 weeks for thick and healthy foliage.

Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) Leaves and Flowers
Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) Leaves and Flowers
(Photo by: Tico/Flickr)

You can start sowing the seeds in early spring and again in September for fall and winter harvest. Sow seeds directly onto the ground, approximately ¼” to ½” deep and about 1’ apart from each other. They should germinate within one or two weeks. This plant grows quickly and can be harvested within 30 to 60 days after sowing.

Make sure to harvest only the young leaves. Older leaves tend to lose their nutty flavor and has lower nutritional contents. To harvest gather a bunch of leaves together and cut with a sharp knife about 1” to 2” from the soil. This will encourage the plant to grow back.

Cautions

There are no known adverse side effects from eating this plant. It’s generally safe to consume.

Conclusion

Corn salad is a wonderful plant to have. This plant is very hardy and can withstand cold temperatures, allowing them to thrive and provide you with leafy greens all year long. Moreover, with its delicate nutty flavor, it certainly has the taste that will please everyone.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Comfrey, Slightly Toxic but Holds So Many Health Benefits

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With high nutrition contents, the common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is very popular among herbalists. This herb has exceptional medicinal properties. There’s a catch, though. This herb is slightly toxic. But its health benefits greatly outweigh its drawbacks. This plant is part of the borage family and it’s native to Europe. Comfrey grows in other places like North America, but it’s often regarded as a weed or an invasive species.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
(Photo by: Trish Steel/Wikimedia Commons)

Edibility and culinary uses

Comfrey has a pleasant but mild cucumber-like taste, much like borage. Young comfrey leaves are quite good to eat. They’re slightly hairy and have a mucilaginous texture. Older leaves are covered with a lot of coarse hairs and taste very bitter. These leaves can be chopped up to be added in salads. Alternatively, they can also be stir-fried like spinach, added into soups, blended with green juices, or deep fried to make fritters. Be careful not to overcook them, though. Overcooked leaves taste bitter and unpalatable.

In addition to that, young comfrey shoots can be used as a substitute for asparagus in many recipes. Meanwhile, the roots can be roasted and combined with chicory roots and dandelion to make coffee. Lastly, the leaves and roots can also be dried to make tea leaves. Comfrey herbal tea is wonderful as herbal medicine.

Health benefits

Comfrey leaves and roots contain a compound called allantoin. Allantoin has the ability to encourage skin cell growth and regenerate connective tissues. It also contains tannin and rosmarinic which also encourage skin cells growth and reparation, giving this herb amazing external healing properties. For this reason, comfrey is often applied to unbroken skin to help treat ulcers, burns, wounds, joint inflammation, bruises, sprains, gouts, and fractures.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Flowers
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Flowers
(Photo by: Brian Pettinger/Flickr)

Aside from that, this herb is rich in protein, minerals, antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Despite being slightly toxic, its health benefits far outweigh its toxicity. It’s used to heal many ailments such as upset stomach, chest congestion, sore throats, diarrhea, gallstones, ulcers, pneumonia, and pleurisy.

Cultivation

Aside from being a medicinal herb, comfrey can give you other benefits as well. The bell-shaped flowers are full of nectar and pollen which can help attract bees and butterflies to your garden. This plant also grows very quickly, allowing you to use it as an ‘instant compost’ for other plants in your garden.

Comfrey is a quite hardy plant. It can thrive almost all types of soil and it’s drought-resistant. However, it will thrive best in rich soils and regular watering will help it grow stronger. This plant loves sunny locations but it grows best under the partial shade of a tree.

The seeds need a winter chilling period to germinate. Start them indoors, then once the danger of frost has passed, you can transfer them outside. Place each plant 2 ½’ away from each other to avoid overcrowding. These plants don’t need a lot of maintenance after they’ve settled down, just make sure to clear out surrounding weeds every once in a while.

Cautions

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Leaves and Flowers
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Leaves and Flowers
(Photo by: Jon Obsworth/Flickr)

As mentioned earlier, this plant is mildly toxic. The small quantities of alkaloids found in comfrey can have a cumulative effect on liver health if too much is consumed regularly. People with liver problems should not ingest comfrey. It’s also recommended to avoid this herb during pregnancy as it may cause birth defects. The roots have the highest concentration of alkaloids while the leaves tend to contain more alkaloid as they grow older. In contrast, young leaves contain almost no alkaloids.

Don’t apply comfrey on broken or damaged skin to avoid abscesses forming. Don’t consume this herb while taking pyrrolizidine alkaloids as this combination may result in liver diseases, liver failure, or even cancer. Overconsumption may cause vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Conclusion

Comfrey has had a long history as a medicinal herb. It has been used for thousands of years across the world, from Rome to China. Despite recent reports showing that comfrey might have mild toxic effects, its medicinal benefits are still undeniably amazing. Comfrey is a very useful plant to have around, whether as a supplementary food source or as a first aid herbal remedy.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Chervil, a Delicate and Versatile Spring Herb

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Sometimes also called French parsley, chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a mild herb that plays an important role in French and Mediterranean cuisines. This annual plant is native to Europe. This herb is closely related to parsley and the two herbs look very similar. But, chervil leaves tend to be smaller, frillier, and paler in color compared to parsley leaves.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Illustration
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Illustration
(Photo by: Otto Wilhelm Thomé/Wikimedia Commons)

Edibility and culinary use

Chervil has light taste and aroma that’s reminiscent of anise or tarragon. Both fresh and dried chervil leaves can be used to enhance the flavor of a dish. However, dried chervil has a weaker taste. Overheating the leaves can also weaken their taste, so it’s actually better to add them to a dish at the end of the cooking process or after it’s done cooking. They pair wonderfully with chicken, fish, and egg dishes. They can also be used to enhance the taste of soups, creamy sauces, and oil-based salad dressings.

People mainly only use chervil leaves for cooking, but its flowers and seeds are edible as well. Much like the leaves, chervil flowers and seeds also have a delicate, anise-like flavor. They can be as a substitute for chervil leaves in recipes. Lastly, the leaves and flowers can be made into juice or tea. Many societies throughout history have been using these herbal drinks for medicinal purposes.

Health benefits

Chervil has been an important part of folk herbal medicine since the Ancient Roman period. This herb is a great source of vitamin A and C. This means consuming chervil can greatly benefit your vision and immune system. It also contains important minerals such as calcium, selenium, potassium, and copper which will help you stay healthy.

Chervil tea and juice are especially good to use as a herbal medicine due to their potency. These drinks can help treat different ailments, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive problems, constipation, cough, gum diseases, mouth ulcers, and fluid retention. Additionally, it can also relieve menstrual cramps and abdominal pain.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) as a Houseplant
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) as a Houseplant
(Photo by: The Croft/Flickr)

You can also apply the tea topically to aid certain skin ailments and maintain skin health. Dabbing it on insect bites and eczema will make them heal faster as well as reduce the itchiness. Adding tea in your skincare routine can also reduce wrinkles, improve the skin’s elasticity, and aid any skin inflammations.

Cultivation

In addition to having wonderful culinary and medicinal benefits, it’s also a great companion plant for carrots, lettuces, and radishes. Cultivating chervil nearby will enhance the quality of the two other plants. It can also help repel harmful insects and protect other plants. Lastly, if you’re tight on space, this plant can grow well in containers, allowing you to put them in your kitchen’s tiny herb garden.

Unlike other herbs, chervil actually prefers cooler temperature and sheltered locations. It also needs to be kept moist all the time. Water them often but be careful to not flood the soil. It should also be noted that chervil has really long roots that don’t respond well to moving and crowding. So, keep that in mind while sowing the seeds.

The seeds can be sown in the spring or fall. You can also sow them in a successive pattern every 2 or 3 weeks up until 6 weeks before the starting frost date. Doing this will ensure you have a constant supply of chervil to use. Sow the seeds in groups of five and plant them just below the soil. Give 1’ space in between each group to avoid overcrowding. They’ll be ready for harvest in 6 or 8 weeks after sowing.

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Flowers
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Flowers
(Photo by: Kurt Stüber/Wikimedia Commons)

Be sure to only harvest the young leaves and avoid mature leaves that have turned purple or flowered. Older leaves lose their sweetness and taste bitter instead. Cut the leaves at the base to encourage more growth. Harvest the leaves early in the morning for the best taste.

Cautions

Chervil is generally safe to consume in normal amounts. But it should be avoided during pregnancy. Chervil contains a compound that can trigger mutations in the genes of the developing fetus and thus, cause birth and growth defects.

Conclusion

Chervil is a very useful herb to have. It tastes great as a spice, works wonders as a natural home remedy, and serves nicely as a companion plant. This tasty and helpful plant is known globally for its properties by gardeners and scientists alike. It would not be wrong to say that chervil is an amazing herb.


---------------
Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org

Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

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eattheplanet.org is an affiliate marketer. We may earn commission from links to products and services on this page.

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