JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ground elder salad


















Ground elder is the bane of my gardening life. It's everywhere in this garden. I don't use chemicals (although Lucius puts them on his croquet lawn), so we either have to mow it to destruction, or pull it by hand, which means getting every last little bit of white root, or else it springs to life again in a depressingly vigorous manner. It is, as any British gardener will tell you, a losing battle.

However, on the principle that a weed is merely a plant in the wrong place, I have learnt to love ground elder, just a little, so that I don't fall into despair. And these are the reasons: the Romans introduced it into England because of its pretty ornamental leaf (yes, it IS pretty, but so invasive that that's easy to forget); Wikipedia says you can use it to treat gout and arthritis; and because it is good in a salad.

Yes, salad. You should look for young leaves, and add them to your salad (cheaper than one of those expensive supermarket pillow packs, and even more ubiqitous). It has an interesting taste - a little like dandelion without the sharpness; on the way to sorrel without the lemony-ness, and so responds well to a dressing made with lemon juice. It wilts pretty quickly, but I find that is true of almost all the soft salad leaves that grow in this garden.

There's just one thing you should know, particularly at this time of year. According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, it becomes strongly laxative once it has flowered. But, as I say, you need to look for fresh young growth to put in your salad bowl.

I'm ashamed to say that some of mine has been in the ground so long that it has just come into flower, rather a pretty and delicate white flower. So now I'm going to pick it and see what sort of vase life it has. Who knows, I may start really loving it!


This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this time by Astrid at Paulchen's Food Blog




12 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh . . . it really does have a lovely flower!

Cottage Smallholder said...

You can cook it too. It's a bit like spinach and is cooked in the same way.

We have several areas in the garden where it flourishes. My mum used to poison it in her garden and killed a lot of precious plants in the process. Since we started eating it I don't get quite so wound up about it!

TopVeg said...

That is interesting! Always a relief to find a use for something you have tried to prtend did not exist!
TopVeg

Magic Cochin said...

It's flourishing in my garden too! And even if I acquire a taste for it I'm sure I'll lose the battle in the borders.
But I like its fresh green leaves and its pretty white flowers so garden with confidence and Ground Elder looks like it's meant to be there. (And my hens love foraging amongst it!)

Celia

June said...

That's so interesting! Not quite interesting enough for me to leave the stuff in the ground, but I didn't know you could eat it - some compensation certainly!

Joanna said...

I know just what you mean, June, it's pure idleness on my part ... and now I've found they make a great cut flower!

Joanna

Astrid, Kashim & Othello said...

Thanks for joining in!
I didn't know that you can use it for salads as well - but I am a great ground elder fan though.

John said...

Hi Joanna, interesting article. Question, would this elder flower be used in the making of lemonade and syrup?

John said...

Hi Joanna, interesting article. Question, would this elder flower be used in the making of lemonade and syrup?

Simona said...

I think it is very nice when you go from feeling bad about a plant in your garden to feeling good about it. This was an interesting read: thnaks.

ostwestwind said...

Oh, for me it's weed ;-). But it's a good way to eat your enemy...

Anonymous said...

IT'S MY GUINEA PIG'S FAVOURITE FOOD!