Better Than Spinach: Foraging for Lamb's Quarters

| 5/9/2014 2:15:00 PM

Tags: edible wild plants, lambs quarters, New York, Leda Meredith,

lamb's quartersWhat is it about this "wild spinach" (Chenopodium album) that makes it better than its cultivated cousin? For starters, it's free.

Well, it is if you forage it. I recently saw lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) for sale under the name wild spinach for a whopping $7.59 per pound. Whoa, mama! I’m pretty sure the farm hadn’t actually planted this choice wild edible, but was just making the most of their weeding. More power to them, but I’m glad I forage my lamb's quarters for free.

Popeye might have chosen lamb's quarters over spinach if he'd known what a nutritional superstar it is. Just one cup of the chopped leaves gives you 464 mgs of calcium (compared to 30 in spinach), and 66 mgs of vitamin C (8.4 mg in spinach).

By late spring and early summer, dandelion, dock, and many other wild edible greens have become too bitter to eat. Not lamb’s quarters. It keeps its delicious mild flavor and silky texture (when cooked) straight through the summer.

Finding and Collecting Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's quarters grows in parks, community gardens, parking lots, tree pits, farmlands – anywhere there's sunlight and the disturbed soil that us humans constantly create. It appears each year once nighttime temperatures are reliably above freezing.

The nutritional stats above were based on one cup of the leaves. Don’t pick just one cup though. Although lamb’s quarters is edible raw, it's tastier once cooked. Like spinach, it shrinks down a lot as it wilts during cooking. So if you want to end up with a cup of cooked lamb’s quarters, you’ll need to start out with something close to 10 cups of the raw leaves.

6/6/2018 9:02:45 AM

I've never heard of this and would like to try it, but can you tell me if are there any plants that look very similar that aren't edible I'd have to watch out for? Thank you!

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