Survival Food to Forage: Lambsquarters
This past year, beginning in the early spring, we had a TON of these "mystery plants" springing up around our back yard...everywhere! We had recently pulled out a lot of Horehound, which is considered a noxious and invasive weed here in our high desert mountains, and this left the ground disturbed.
Wouldn't you know? Up sprang a new "weed." We let them grow about 2 feet tall, then decided we'd better pull them up in the area near the chicken coop. After asking neighbor after neighbor and my parents who know all about plants out here, nobody knew what it was! "Just a weed," they said.
The ones we left to grow out of curiosity grew to between four and six feet high! That's quite a weed!
Then...I discovered what they were! Here's how to identify and use Lambsquarters, a delicious edible wild plant:
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Lambsquarters (also known as goosefoot, Latin name Chemopodium album)
Lambsquarters are actually delicious, with a taste and consistency similar to spinach. In addition, it's said they are highly nutritious....even more so than spinach!
We had a second very large patch in our inner yard, too, by our fruit trees. I told my husband that I thought we should just let them grow and see what happens! So all summer long, I have been trying to figure out what they are, as I watched them grow up to 6 feet tall!
The leaves have variable and irregular edges, and are very soft, with a white powdery cover on the bottom. Later in the summer tiny flowers emerged at the top of the many stems, which emerge from woody stalks.
The flowers are tiny---almost microscopic in fact, and bunched together in spires about 4 inches long. I know I'm not describing these well in botanical terms, so here are some pictures:
How to Use Lambsquarters
1) You can eat them raw in salads! They are high in oxalates, though, just like spinach, so some people may be sensitive.
2) Steam them up! In fact, here is my very successful experiment! (I love when experiments turn out....sometimes they don't)
3) I understand you can use the seeds too. Lambsquarters, it turns out, is a relative of amaranth and quinoa. To harvest the seeds, just place a paper bag over the flower clusters, bend upside down, and shake well. The seeds fall into the bag.
To eat them, just cover with water overnight to soak, then rinse. Cook up! If you want to cook them even more traditionally, add a tablespoon of whey to the soaking water. I haven't tried this yet, but as soon as the seeds are more ready, I'll be giving this a try!
4) I love dehydrating my plants and making a fine powder from them. You can sprinkle the powder into your foods for additional nutrition. If your kids don't like their beet greens or spinach, try this out! I plan to use lambsquarters to make an exceptional powder!
You can find out how to make Nettle Powder in this article, and the directions would be the same for other greens as well.
How I Finally Identified this Plant
Having never seen lambsquarters before in my life and with nobody else knowing where to even start, it was a little tricky. Then I ran across this book, Southwest Foraging by John Slattery.
What a lucky find! Not only was I able to identify lambsquarters, but many other plants in my yard...like Sow's Thistle, which I thought was really scraggly Dandelion. Amazing. I love being able to eat right from my yard, even though I have a fine garden this year (except the tomatoes...they did very little for us this summer).
NOTE: I am not a botanist or a scientist. Be sure that you know what you are eating when trying to identify wild plants to forage and use. I checked several sources besides the above book before giving our lambsquarters a try...just to be sure.
Final Thoughts on Foraging for Lambsquarters
If you see this plant around, take a look and consider using some for your next meal. At the very least, you will have experienced eating lambs quarters and therefore be a little more prepared in case of a disaster where there is little food to be had.
I'm glad I have this new knowledge to share with you. You know what? Every little bit of preparedness will help if ever SHTF.
You may also be interested in these articles:
- Tips for Wildharvesting Medicinal & Edible Herbs
- Foraging and Using Chaparral
- 140+ Emergency Supplies Every Home Should Have---Just in Case
- Survival Skill: What About Female Hygiene Preparedness? What Did Ladies Do for That Time in the Olden Days?
There's lots more over on the blog, too! :-)
Do you forage any of your own food? I'd love to know what you've found in your backyard or if you know of other ways to use Lambsquarters!
Oh! And by the way---if you are interested in learning more about using herbs for health in your own daily life and want to take a class or two or three, I love The Herbal Academy of New England. They seriously have something for everyone over there.
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance!
P.S. Don't forget to sign up for the Newsletter and never miss a thing! Plus, you'll receive my eBook on How to Use Herbs to Relax FREE! :-)
If you live in the Southwest, this is a must-have book if you are into or thinking about possibly having to survive if something happens...or if you just have an interest in the edible plants in the area! I've been using this book constantly since I bought it!
This is a really great book with many ideas for using wild harvested edible plants. Lambsquarters can be found in this book too, I was happy to see! I like using this book for all kinds of things, especially making cold infusions from foraged plants such as pine, manzanita, and Mormon tea. There is a LOT more to this book, too!