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Edible Weeds; Fat Hen.

A weed is in the eye of the beholder. Some weeds are grown commercially in certain countries but may take on weed status when they are out of their place or origin. Most weed species in Australia that are a menace have come from elsewhere.

The definition of a weed according to is “A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden. A simple explanation is from, “ any plant that crowds out cultivated species” In other words, to transform a weed back to plant, change your view of it and put it where you can control it.

One weed worth changing your attitude to is Fat hen, Chenopodium album. Like most weeds, it appears on wasteland or recently cleared land. Weeds have a habit of being early colonisers.

You use fat hen much as you would spinach, and like spinach, the leaves contain reasonably high levels of oxalic acid so should be eaten in moderation. Cooking reduces the levels of oxalic acid. You can use it in salads or lightly boiled as a green. The leaves are high in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus and are a good source of protein, trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, and fibre.

The flowers are edible as too the seeds which are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium and can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour to mix with wheat flour, or used as you might use other seeds in cooking.

If you want to sprout the seeds and use those they produce a delicate, reddish-brown sprout, which can be used in salads on a sandwich or thrown in to a stir fry at the very end as they take a nano-second to cook.

Storage; in the fridge, although the leaves can be dried, blanched and frozen. In Japan, they are cured with salt.

Medicinally; The leaves have been used as a poultice on burns and being full of so many varied elements, has been prescribed to treat various problems arising from nutritional deficiencies

Weeds do well as they have an amazing ability to draw nutrients in, often with long tap roots. Fat hen is a great nitrate accumulator so in nitrate rich soil, eat it in moderation. With all weeds taken from roadsides or other land not under your control, ensure they have not been sprayed with herbicide.

Other common names are; Blueweed, Giant fat hen, Goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters, pigweed

Other edible weeds:

Sow thistle: <>

Nettle: <>


Published: Nov 18, 2008 9:33am by shaun.

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