Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't eat that wild carrot!

Today, the topic is Umbelliferae or Apiaceae.  You know this plant because it contains celery, caraway, carrot, queen anne's lace, parsnip...and 293 other plants.  More than once you've seen plants like this in the wild because they look just like carrot tops. Sadly, in addition to being wild carrot it can be unforgiveably poisonous when it grows in the form of poison hemlock. 

Poison hemlock looks much like Queen Anne's lace and can be difficult to distinguish it. To be safe, never eat any part of a plant in the celery family that hasn't been grown in a garden from a seed packet. There are other poisonous plants in the family besides this one.  There is no known antidote for poisoning in the family.

We all eat carrots or parsnips or caraway seeds in our rye bread but are there other alternatives?  Carrot tops are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. They are loaded with potassium, which can make them bitter, so the use of them in food is limited,  My suggestion is to put them into your salad as a condiment rather than eating a bowl full.  They are also rich in Vitamin K which should be consumed in limited quantities if you are on a blood thinner.

In old England, garlands of carrot leaves were worn in ladies hats during the winter months in place of bird feathers and, to brighten up the hearth, the top of a carrot was cut off and placed in a plate of water; the result was a lovely bouquet of leaves.  A tea made from the leaves serves a dual purpose, a diuretic and an anti-flatulance.  Nature is soooo wonderful.  Just make sure you got your leaves from the grocery store!

The other thing we are seeing these days are wild onions; aka garlic chives, wild garlic.  Not be confused with Crow Poison which grows at the same time... Wild onions smell like onions while Crow Poison doesn't have that distinctive oniony aroma.

These you treat just like garden chives.  Cut them from the plant, wash them, chop them and either put them on your baked potato; into a dip; as an accoutrament to your soup or salad OR, you can freeze them or dry them and save them for a rainy day.  The bulb you can steam or saute and serve as a side dish if you are so inclined.

No comments:

Post a Comment