Eating the foliage of vegetables

Harvesting and preserving your fruit & veg

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Primrose
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Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Primrose » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:18 pm

I was cutting back some sprawling climbing bean foliage this morning and the thought idly occurred to me that there seems to be some vegetable foliage like those from runner beans, carrots, parsnips and probably others that are never eaten and I wondered if this is a modern thing because food is now so plentiful.

I imagine that in earlier times when food was scarce before was mass food production, perhaps hungry peasants might have been forced to eat a much poorer diet, consuming vegetation we wouldn't dream of eating today .
Has anybody come across any interesting examples? I've heard of acorns being roasted and ground up as a substitute for coffee but I can't envisage a " spinach" substitute of runner bean leaves, even in fact if they are edible.

And are rhubarb leaves poisonous or is that a myth? I do occasionally put the odd very young blackcurrant leaf in a mixed green salad, just to add a slightly different flavour.
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Westi » Sat Sep 24, 2016 6:40 pm

Good question Primrose.

I suspect there are lots of foliage that is edible. Thinking of microgreens you eat it all in these, so I suspect OK to eat the bigger ones as well, but probably need cooking. Looking forward to the responses.

Westi
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Primrose » Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:41 pm

I have used young beetroot leaves in salads and occasionally used a few older leaves mixed in with Swiss Chard or Spinach leaves.
i can't envisage any use for carrot or parsnip foliage though !
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Geoff » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:22 pm

Haven't really thought about this but when you consider what they can do your skin I wouldn't suggest trying Parsnip leaves.
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby peter » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:59 pm

Rhubarb leaves do contain oxalic acid and other toxins.
However it's actual effects seem uncertain.
I am not inclined to test it's toxicity myself as I suspect kidney damage could be a more certain consequence.

http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/poison
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Westi » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:12 pm

I was thinking of this when I was down at lottie today, so I did a few taste tests. Celeriac stems were just like mild celery, although not as crispy & even more fibrous, swede leaves were pretty bland but had a funny sweetness, kohl rabi leaves were quite nice, but the ones I tasted haven't started to bulb, even the tiniest squash leaf was too hairy, carrot wasn't very carrot tasting at all, turnip was OK'ish but my leaves were a bit tattered.

Beetroot leaves I use all the time when available in salads, so didn't test them.

All in all I think we have the right idea to eat the plant, but I think you could add them to salads for texture, colour & bulk.

Westi
PS: Please tell me none of these are poisonous! :)
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Monika » Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:11 pm

Celeriac: I always use the tender inner leaves of celeriac in soups. I believe on the continent they are actually sold for this purpose.
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Re: Eating the foliage of vegetables

Postby Primrose » Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:25 pm

And I use celery leaves in salads, soups and stir fries. I've had to give up growing celeriac though. i could never get anything to grow much bigger than a golf ball and by the time all the roots and nobbles had been removed they weren't worth bothering with, especially when we can buy a huge one for about £1.
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