Unexpected Edibles – Grow, Forage, and Cook

Unexpected Edibles - grow, forage, and cook with unusual fruits, vegetables, and wild food
This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. Thank you for your continued support of Lovely Greens!

This time of year gardeners are thinking about spring planting, sorting through seeds, and salivating at the thought of the first spears of April asparagus, May peas, and June strawberries. Nothing can beat the taste of garden-fresh produce but if push comes to shove you can find most  fruit and veg for sale at your local supermarket or farmers market. But if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual it’s unlikely that you’ll find it alongside tomatoes and onions down at the shop.

Unexpected Edibles - grow, forage, and cook with unusual fruits, vegetables, and wild food

The more adventurous foodies will already know that there’s a whole world of produce that you won’t be able to find anywhere other than in your local park, at the sides of public foot paths, and in your backyard. Wild food, ‘weeds’, edible flowers, and unusual garden produce give us fresh and exciting ways to taste and eat local that won’t even come close to breaking the bank. Here are some of my picks for ideas on ways to explore the world of unexpected edibles.

Unusual Garden Produce
Several years ago I went to James Wong’s presentation on ‘Incredible Edibles’ and through it was inspired to start growing unusual garden produce myself. Since then, James Wong has partnered with Suttons Seeds in the UK to offer a fantastic variety of new seeds including Cucamelons, Cocktail Kiwis, Wild White Strawberries, and more. The fun of growing produce at home is that you can use the opportunity to grow produce you can’t find anywhere else!
Homegrown Revolution Seeds at Suttons

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #healthyrecipes


Unexpected Food Sources In Your Garden
Melissa, the Empress of Dirt, takes another look at those radishes that have gone to seed or parts of garden veg that you’d usually compost. It’s incredible how much of it can actually be turned into wholesome and delicious meals.
Unexpected Food Sources In Your Garden

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #healthyrecipes

Edible Flowers
Flowers aren’t just pretty faces – some of them can be eaten too! Nasturtiums are also known as ‘Poor Mans Pepper’ for their peppery taste, Borage flowers are refreshing and taste similar to cucumbers, and both lavender buds and rose petals are used to flavour ice cream, candies, cordials, and other dishes. Learn more about identifying edible flowers through this link:
Edible Flower Guide

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #foodie

Edible Garden Tour
Barb at Our Fairfield Home & Garden takes us on a unique culinary tour of the DCH in the below post. Through the tour and subsequent meal she’s introduced to various unusual edibles that include dandelion greens salad, Lotus roots and bamboo shoots stir fry, and lavender cupcakes.
A Taste test of wild ornamental plants

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #foodie

Edible Weeds
Edible ‘Weeds’ will be different depending on where you live in the world. Some are fairly universal though so you can find quite a few delicious recipes online that use nettles, dandelion leaves, sorrel, and more. Foraging for and learning which ones suit your taste can be a fun and adventurous culinary experience though please make sure that you know what you’re picking before you take it home and put it in a salad. Whereas some plants are unmistakable, others are more difficult and can be confused for toxic species. Though there are a few online foraging guides available (see below), the best sources are books such as Food for Free.

UK Urban Foraging Pocket guide also has links to foraging guides for Cornwall and riversides
Guide to edible plants in the north-east US and central-east Canada
Mushroom Foraging Guide

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #foodie

 

Recipes using Unusual Edibles
For a ‘taster’ of what you can make with your foraged and homegrown unusual edibles have a look at the recipes below. From Rose Petal wine to Garlic Scape pesto, the range of delicious food and drink that can be made from unconventional produce and overlooked greens is endless. Here are a few ideas:

 

Unexpected Edibles - Grow, Forage, and Cook with wild and unusual fruits, vegetables, roots, berries, herbs, and flowers #healthyrecipes
Unexpected Edibles - grow, forage, and cook with unusual fruits, vegetables, and wild food

10 Discussion to this post

  1. Very interesting, especially the sprouted sunflower seeds, I am going to have to try that. Thanks.

  2. CJ says:

    What a lovely post Tanya, there are some great ideas there.

  3. Mickle in NZ says:

    Great to see James Wong's selection includes the New Zealand Yam. It is known in other parts of the world as Oca.

    A wee warning – I recommend growing these in a container other wise you'll have them for good in the garden. Even a small piece left in the soil will sprout and produce new tubers. Mine (which are well contained) come from a few I'd bought to eat and forgotten about!

    And it is lovely to see such a variety of new plants for Folks to try. Happy seed sowing, planting and growing,
    Michelle in Wellington, NZ.

  4. Tanya Walton says:

    A great post Tanya…I too saw James Wong a few years back and he really opened my eyes to what is available to us. Now all I really have to do is find the time to go foraging though I think now that we have Trojan I will find a lot more excuses to go roaming the hedgerows for hours!!!

  5. Fran says:

    This looks a really interesting book, I think I feel an Amazon hit coming on! I tried to grow Oca last year, but it was not very successful. I did plant some wild garlic and am waiting to see if that reappears this year xxx

  6. Lovely blog, great ideas that I will be trying. x

  7. Lots of great links there, Tanya. Despite trying to stay away from buying more seeds this year, I am going to have a go at growing James Wong's buzz button daisies – an interesting addition to my edible flowers, I hope! Btw, I sent some achocha seeds to America recently – the guy found me via your blog when he was desperate to track some down; I didn't realise they were that unusual or hard to get hold of but seed suppliers in UK are swamped with legislation preventing them from supplying to US. He's thrilled to have some to grow and I was happy to help – the power of the blogging community!

  8. rolling sky says:

    Why is the strawberry white?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *