this common garden ‘weed’ is a hardy and delicious wild edible. rich in vitamins and minerals, chickweed can grow all winter long cozied up in greenhouses (this is where this handful came from).
we generally don’t buy vegetables from afar, so when winter falls, we eat a lot of hardy brassicas like kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and other locally grown greens. sometimes we manage to scavenge some hardy weeds as well, like this handful of chickweed.
local, fresh greens contain far more nutritional content than vegetables that are shipped from afar. something i really adore about chickweed, is that not only is it a choice edible, it is a very wonderful medicinal as well.
chickweed is a cooling demulcent, which means it is soothing to heat and inflammation, internally as well as externally. it can be bruised (or chewed) and used as a poultice to draw out inflammation (and heat), soothe scratches and rashes, minor burns, skin irritation, eczema and fight infection. it has been used traditionally as an eye wash as well, for irritation and pink eye. it is also used internally as a tonic to cleanse the blood, flush out the kidneys, for swollen lymph glands, and for bringing relief for dry coughs. its cooling nature makes it a gentle but effective herb to reach for in times of fever, as well as heat in the urinary tract, such as painful urination. for gut health, it is high in fibre and said to be helpful for improving nutrient absorption. it’s anti-inflammatory attributes can help with arthritis, menstrual cramps and rheumatism. centuries ago it was used to draw out splinters.
in terms of edibility, chickweeds stems, leaves and flowers can be eaten with gusto. we like to add them to omelettes, salads, stir fries, and just about anything you can think of. of course, they can be enjoyed on their own as well, lightly steamed, or sautéed in good butter.
medicinally, they can be drank as a tea (or long infusion), infused in organic apple cider vinegar to make a nutritive vinegar for salad dressings, etc, infused in oil for topical use or furthermore made into a healing salve (goes well with other green allies such as plantain, marshmallow, etc), dried for later use as tea or food. some research is showing it is high in natural antihistamines as well.
the best part about chickweed, is that it grows like a weed. you can harvest from the same plant again and again as long as you leave the roots intact.