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Spring Sprung Early and it's Time to Pick Chickweed!
By the way, it is called chickweed because chickens love it. I use to feed it to my sweet little chickens all the time. They would just go crazy for it. Yum Yum Yummy!
I use to adopt elderly chickens. Farmers would often discard older birds because they stopped laying eggs, like a sort of chicken menopause (minus the need for copious amounts of chocolate, wine and Nana Mouskouri). I felt like my chickens were rescued pets and I loved them with or without their little golden eggs. Go ahead and call me a softy, it is true. Chickens lay eggs for around 3-5 years, then they just sort of run out. I guess old gals are not any good for eatin' either because the farmers didn't seem to want to keep them. That's when I would jump in and invite the hens to live out their wild years, happy and free on my farm (sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and endlessly repeat stories about the good old days, that sort of thing). In wild flocks, there is a natural culling that happens to the old, sick and slow birds and, though my flock was anything but wild, they seemed to fit in nicely. After a while they would magically start laying again! I guess all that fresh air, delicious wild chickweed and other herbal edibles, clean living, and stress free lifestyle was a great retirement boost helping to give "Stella" her groove back! You go girl!
Chickweed is such an adorable weed
Did you know it can help you predict the weather! Its leaves fold up when it’s going to rain and leaves also fold up at night. Cute, right?! Just like me, chickweed prefers to sleep in. Its blossoms open late in the morning.
Chickweed grows in a wide variety of areas. It is one of the most common weeds found in lawns but it also grows well in deciduous forests. I often find it in moist areas near damp woodland pathways.
Chickweed leaves are used by adding them raw to salads and sandwiches- YUM. They can be tossed into soups and hot dishes as well. SO EASY. Unlike most weeds you can eat the entire plant, stems and flowers can be eaten also.
Chickweed has a couple cousins that look similar but are NOT edible. Do not eat if it has a milky sap! That's not chickweed! Edible chickweed should have an elastic inner part that will stretch and stay attached when you twist the stem apart gently. Here is a good photo of the sweet teeny weeny white flowers.
Medicinal Properties & Making Herbal Medicines:
Chickweed is best known for its ability to heal the skin. Such as bacterial infections, minor burns, lesions, acne, wounds, eczema, insect bites and other sore itchy skin conditions. Chickweed is a fantastic herb to grab fresh and apply as a poultice. Next time you are on a walk with a friend who has a sunburn or eczema, snatch a bit of chickweed, tell them to chew it for a minute then apply it directly to the skin as a poultice. It works great!
Gentle enough to be used on children and in the eye for infections; like the dreaded pink eye. The medicinal properties of this common garden weed make it a popular ingredient in salves and lotions. It is one of my very favorite herbs to pick and use fresh in my Earth's Herbal Wild Herb First Aid Salve or tattoo aftercare Slave!
Topical application of chickweed is very effective and this herb does well using the heat infused herbal oil technique. Using the oil in salves and ointments is a great choice for making medicine because chickweed combines well with other herbs. Chickweed soothes, cools, removes bacteria and strengthens the cellular wall wall of the skin.
It is also a great herb for women. Use chickweed for cystitis, chronic cystitis, or a bladder irritated by childbirth or abdominal surgery. Make a strong chickweed oil, rub onto the abdomen, then apply a hot water bottle for an effective treatment to dissolve cystitis (add castor oil to your oil blend after heating). Fresh herb teas are great for bladder infections and any kind of internal skin repair. As well, tea can be used as an eye wash or rinse for wounds. A poultice of chickweed is fantastic for burns, cuts, sore itchy areas and acne. Just give it a try, chickweed might be the next big fad in Hollywood. It makes a great face mask of green herbal slop and it really works! Herbal Salves are best for eczema or larger exterior skin surfaces. Chickweed has also been used successfully for weight loss. Try making a decoction in a large mason jar of fresh chopped herb. Brew it into a strong tea by steeping for 4 hours in the sun, drink daily - add honey or miso for flavor.
For the best medicinal harvest of chickweed you want to pick the herb while it is in the newly budded stage. I find this to be just at the beginning of spring, end of winter in Victoria BC. It may vary depending on the climate. This is when it's at its freshest, yummiest and the medicinal content will be at its highest because its energy has not been completely funneled into the flowers yet.
I like to pick it in the morning. Not only does chickweed feel like a little morning herb to me but chickweed also wilts easily so picking it when it is still covered in early morning dew drops or plump from a previous rain is the best time to harvest it for freshness. Chickweed can be collected all year round in many climates. I know I see it most of the year here in Victoria, BC. Chickweed does not dry very well, so a preferred method is to use it fresh in ointments, tinctures or vinegars. That said, I think I may have perfected my technique for drying chickweed and have been getting great results. Let me know if you want my secrets!
Happy herb hunting.
Please feel free to comment if you want to know more about making medicine using chickweed. I am happy to teach you.
It is hard to describe the taste of chickweed. It is very palatable. It is not bitter, sour or tart. It tastes refreshing! To me it can be best described like a kind of watery corn silk when raw, if you’ve ever tried that. When cooked it is similar to spinach, though the texture is different and it has a much lighter flavor. It doesn't have that annoying astringent squeak when you chew it and it is not as high in minerals as spinach so it doesn't have that iron taste. Much like spinach, chickweed can be added to soups, stews, quiche, and more. However, it can bother people who suffer from allergies to daisies.
I haven't been getting my share of fresh foods. Winter is often like that so I am excited that Spring is on the way. It seems everything I've been eating lately has either been cooked to death or is dehydrated, or processed, and my body is craving fresh, live food. I was delighted yesterday when I noticed all the chickweed happily growing abundant this year! I thought to myself, "time to get my juicer out from the cupboard for making juice and tonight a healthy chickweed salad for dinner sounds ideal!"
Chickweed Salad Recipe
2 cup chickweed leaves chopped
1 bunch scallions
1/4 sliced watercress
pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp. organic flax oil (or olive oil)
2 tbsp. Lavender balsamic vinegar
1/2 garlic clove diced
1 tblp pine nuts
Rinse and drain chickweed. Thinly cut watercress. Place in bowl.
Combine the oil, vinegar and garlic and pine nuts then toss through salad. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over and enjoy.
Serves one - two
Buttered Chickweed Recipe
4 cups chickweed leaves
one small white onion chopped very fine
Wash chickweed thoroughly. Place in boiling water. Cook only for a couple minutes, drain well. Melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan. Briefly sauté the onion then add chickweed. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and goat cheese.
Chickweed Breakfast Omelet
2 free range eggs
1 cup chopped fresh Chickweed leaves and stems.
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a bowl, beat the eggs fluffy, and stir in the chickweed and Parmesan cheese. Season with onion powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. In a small skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat, cook the egg mixture about 3 minutes, until partially set. Flold with a spatula, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes.