Many people see Lambs Quarters as nothing more than a common weed, never realizing that a tasty and nutritious green vegetable could be enjoyed, free for the picking.
Lambs quarter, sometimes referred to as goosefoot for the shape of its leaves, is my favorite edible weed and is easy to recognize once you become familiar with it.
Discovering Edible Lambs Quarter Weeds
As with any edible weed or wild plant don’t eat unless you are positive of its identification and that it has not been exposed to chemical sprays or pollution. So if you’re not familiar with lambs quarter refer to a good edible weed field guide or consult with someone who is familiar with the plant before eating it.
Lambs quarter can frequently be found growing in vegetable gardens, on disturbed soil, and along the fringes of fields and banks. The plants can grow to about four feet in height with multiple branches forming off of a main squarish looking central stem. Lambs quarter leaves often have a white, pollen-like substance coating their undersides.
Cooking Delicious Lambs Quarter Greens
The leaves and stems are edible and absolutely delicious, with a flavor that can be compared to spinach or chard with an earthy, mineral rich taste. It’s difficult to describe, but if you enjoy leafy greens such as kale, collards, and spinach you’ll love lambs quarter and enjoy the change of pace provided by its distinct flavor.
When cooking lambs quarter the easiest preparation is to simply steam the leaves and stems in a small amount of water until tender. The greens will cook very quickly and turn a dark green color as they shrink down during cooking. The cooked greens are delicious just as they are with no additional seasoning or flavoring necessary.
The young leaves and smaller stems can also be eaten raw in salads. Or you can experiment by substituting lambs quarter for spinach or chard in some of your favorite recipes.
Locating and Harvesting Lambs Quarters
Forage for wild lambs quarters around your landscape or allow a few plants to grow in the garden amongst your vegetable and herb plants. A few seed suppliers sell a cultivated variety of lambs quarter or Giant Goosefoot called “Magentaspreen.” This variety has an attractive magenta hue on the young leaves and stems.
To harvest lambs quarter just cut or snap off the youngest and best looking branches from the top and sides of the plant.
Learn to identify lambs quarter and you may be surprised to find it growing up all around you. Once you steam a batch of the fresh leaves and stems the biggest surprise may be just how much you enjoy the taste of this plant that you previously yanked from the garden and discarded.
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