Clever tips regarding the preparation, washing, and cooking of both herbs and wild plants.
Tips for washing herbs and wild plants:
-Herbs and wild plants should not be soaked in water, or they will loose the majority of their much desired properties as they forfeits their sugars, vitamins and minerals.
-Always rinse them under running water, particularly the leaves and root section.
-Never dispose of roots, since they contain concentrated substances that are very valuable (water, sugar, etc) to the plant. Instead, simply clean roots with a brush; do not scrape them with knives or other sharp instruments.
-Wild plants harvested from areas frequented by sheep and dogs should first be soaked in a vinegar solution for 10 minutes prior to consumption and then rinsed thoroughly.
Facts to bear in mind when cooking herbs and wild plants:
-Wild plants and vegetables should be left to dry well before they are consumed raw in salads. Today, centrifugal manual dryers for plants are available on the market.
-Do not mash wild plants and vegetables when making wild soups. It is best to chop them finely with a sharp knife.
-To get the most nutritional value out of wild plants and vegetables, it is best to consume them raw. The more processed they are, the less nutritious and flavorful they are. Boiling wild plants for four minutes corresponds to a 20-45% loss of their minerals and 75% loss of their vitamins. Unfortunately, the most popular mode of vegetable preparation worldwide is consistently ranked to be boiling.
-Adding an acidic medium, like lemon juice or vinegar, to boiling plants minimizes their loss of vitamins and minerals.
Extra tips for herb and wild plant preparation:
-Allow the water to come to a full boil prior to adding the wild plants. This simple step will prevent the plants from bleaching, allowing them to retain their beautiful green color.
-Boil wild plants in as little water as possible: rinse them thoroughly and put them wet in a pot. Mix them well and add just a little water.
-Caution: some plants (e.g., chicory) should be boiled in ample water, otherwise they turn yellow. Bitter plants must be be boiled in ample water to discharge their bitter substances.
-Adding soda water to boiling wild plants will help them retain their beautiful color, though most of their valuable substances will still be lost, particularly vitamin C.
-Add salt to boiling wild plants approximately eight minutes before you take the pot off the oven ring for extra flavor.
-Wild plants should be boiled in covered pots at high heat for short amounts of time to ensure the least possible loss of nutrients.
-Strain the boiled plants at the soonest possible point, otherwise they will turn yellow.
-You may want to catch the juice from strained boiled wild plants and vegetables to make a healthy drink. Store the juice in glass jars and refrigerate for 2-3 days. To make a tasty drink, warm the juice and then add lemon juice, salt and a little olive oil. The same wild plant juice can be used in soups and sauces.