Wednesday, 7 March 2012

City tucker

On the way to school the other day we found some 'city tucker' - lilly pilly berries and nasturtium flowers growing in a local garden.

You can make lilly pillies into jam, jelly or cordial. There is a lilly pilly jam recipe at Julie's Towards Sustainability blog. We don't have enough berries to make jam. Lilly pillies are a native Australian plant. You can find out more about them here.

Nasturtiums are not native plants, but you can eat the petals in sandwiches or salads and you can also eat the buds or young seed pods, pickled. There is a recipe here which tells you to "Look for a crinkled, brain-like nodule at the base of a bloomed-out nasturtium flower". We think that is a good description.

You can also eat dandelion leaves. Here are some we found growing at the edge of the park near our house.

A few steps further down the path from this dandelion plant, we found this!

Whoever dropped it was long gone so we picked it up and took it home where we washed it and put it in the crisper.

Looking for food like this is called 'foraging'. Diego Bonetto is a local artist and forager who has made a website called The Weedy Connection where he tells you about which weeds you can eat and where you can find them.

We found this picture of amaranth on his website and realised that we had the same plant growing in a pot outside our window. It just popped up by itself. Do you think it's the same plant?

We made a petal salad with nasturtiums we foraged and with borage flowers, tiny pansies and marigold petals from our garden. Everything else in the salad we bought from the shop.

Do you think we ate it?


  1. I would love to eat flowers, but I am worried I won't know which ones are good and which ones might mean the end of me! I will have to do some research.
    I remember one day thinking I had basil in the garden and cooking a pasta sauce. It didn't taste of anything. Later that year, the 'basil' plant grew some lovely pink and purple flowers – it was a fuchsia!
    You have to know, I had recently moved to the mountains from the city and I didn't have a very good understanding of edible plants.

  2. It could have been worse - it could have been poison ivy! That might have added a spicy, tingly touch to your pasta sauce. The good thing is you now know the difference between fuchsia and basil.