Weeding out the best ingredients
Common garden weeds have been tempting tastebuds as a key kitchen ingredient.
Weed pesto, salads and even weed smoothies have been on the menu in Marlborough.
Deemed by many as the baddies of the backyard, weeds seemed to have no alluring qualities.
But the pesky plants have been misunderstood, said a Marlborough woman who turned the garden scourge into a sought-after food.
Food and garden writer Kristina Jensen from the Marlborough Sounds said a weed was simply a plant growing where it shouldn’t.
Her goal was to change the perception of weeds from a gardener’s foe to a resource that can create a more healthy garden and delicious delicacies at the same time. She will hold a workshop at Garden Marlborough in November to help change people’s misconceptions.
‘‘People have been eating weeds for a very long time,’’ Jensen said.
‘‘A lot of plants we call weeds have been used as food and medicine for centuries.
‘‘People think weeds are going to be bitter; they’re surprised when they realise how good they taste,’’ she said.
Jensen attributed her love of edible weeds to her mother who encouraged her to try all the different plants in their garden when she was ‘‘very little’’.
‘‘She would say, eat this, this is edible, and sometimes it tasted horrible,’’ she said.
Jensen said there were many beneficial aspects to weeds such as soil protection, food for bees and mulch.
‘‘If it’s an invasive weed I remove it. Otherwise, I pull them and leave them in the garden. It provides mulch and food for the microbes in the soil. I’m really into mulching, I don’t like to see the bare soil.
‘‘Some people shake their heads and say, oh my God, I’m not doing that. If you see them as an enemy, you’re going to want to destroy them.
‘‘But if you work with them as a part of the ecosystem you can have a great result.’’
Jensen’s tips for finding the best of the bunch included picking from a clean place, not the
‘‘People think weeds are going to be bitter; they're surprised when they realise how good they taste.’’ Food and garden writer Kristina Jensen.
roadside. She said identification was also very important as foraging could be quite dangerous.
Jensen said the liquid in ongaonga, a native poisonous New Zealand nettle, was incredibly painful and it could be difficult to distinguish between it and other less dangerous nettles.
Jensen’s Garden Marlborough workshop will take place on November 10.
‘‘I’ll be limiting the weeds I talk about,’’ she said. ‘‘It won’t be a weed overload.’’ For further information visit gardenmarlborough.co.nz/weedcuisine-workshop.
Kristina Jensen is determined to help people make the most of all the plants in their garden.