churro wrote:I've been gather and using the fruits of common mallow or "cheeseplant" for several years now. Here's a link that gives a decent description:
The fruits, around here and in Santa Fe, at least, are small but plentiful, and enjoy a fairly long season. I've read that it's called cheeseplant because the immature fruits taste like cheese, or, alternatively, look like traditional cheese that's wrapped in cloth and hung to drain off the whey. I don't taste the cheese thing, they just taste green and kind of boring to me, so I tend to believe the second version. I like to add a few handfuls to jars of mixed pickled vegetables or to soups, even salads. I live pretty far away from any decent grocery stores, so it's nice to have fresh stuff like this nearby to bulk up things like stuffing for pork chops, salads, whatever. And nobody seems to balk at eating them.
The other day I tried some of the young leaves raw and liked them. Again, green and boring, but, hey, they're healthy and not at all bitter like some wild greens are. Also, they are plentiful, healthy and free, popping up everywhere. Also, recent studies indicate that they are a powerful anti-cancer food.
I was reading up on them and learned that throughout the ancient world they were (and still are, in some places) used seasonally and heavily relied on as a staple when crops failed. The whole plant is edible, provided you used common sense and gather the parts when tender and young.
Like most wild greens, soil quality matters, in that the plants can concentrate nitrates and other stuff in poor soil, especially where chemical fertilizers are concentrated, and especially later in the season. In the middle-east it has been used as a thickening agent and base for green sauces. I plan to try that soon. I'll work up some sort of recipe and post it here.
That cheese plant grows all over the place here in Illinois. I'll pick some tomorrow and taste it. I'll see if there are seed pods forming and maybe even eat a few blossoms for the fun of it.
My sister-in-law no longer works for the YWCA where the watercress grows so I may have to seek my other source for it or sneak in for a quick pick Just kidding, I'll ask permission from whomever is at the site