5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Eat


I read an article recently in the San Francisco Chronicle about how restaurants are getting more creative with their ingredients due to this faltering economy. Many Bay Area restaurants are using beet greens that were previously disregarded as a menu worthy side dish and including tasty but usually overlooked broccoli stems (my favorite part) in their stir fries. For most of us who have been gardening and eating consciously for a while, that’s old news. You’ve probably already included those healthy bits in your diet, but recently I’ve been finding out that there are some more unusual, yet commonly found things that are completely edible.
Allium Buds
Two weeks ago we went to the Marin Farmers Market and saw a bundle of allium buds sitting alongside the lettuce, chard and other leafy greens. I asked, ‘can you really eat these?’. Why yes! was her answer. Apparently you can roast, saute, or steam any onion, garlic, shallot, leek or chive flower buds that you might find growing in your garden. The other night we went bud collecting and sauteed them with sliced garlic cloves. While we both really liked the small garlic buds, I wasn’t too crazy about the large leek buds. They were a little mealy tasting. But garlic flower buds, I would highly recommend. I bet chive buds would also be good.

Peach Leaves
Who knew that peach leaves could be edible? Well maybe not edible, but useful in flavoring what you are about to eat. Someone, at some point found out that peach leaves impart a beautiful almond and floral flavor to whatever they might be steeped in. You can pick a few brand new tender peach leave to steep in milk for about five minutes and use that milk to make ice cream or a peach leaf custard.

Cilantro Roots
Cilantro is renown for how quickly it bolts (flowers), but the good news is that when you are ready to pull it up, you can harvest the cilantro roots and add them into your dinner! Check out this list of cilantro root recipes.
Pea Shoots
This was a new one to me this year too. You can actually eat the entire pea plant when it’s young. Asian cultures regularly add them to their stir fries and there is even an entire website devoted to pea shoot recipes. I recommend eating them as young as possible because once they get too old they get pretty fibrous and unpleasant to eat (chew, chew, chew).

Broccoli & Cauliflower Leaves
While you may not want to harvest large mature broccoli leaves because of their toughness, young leaves can be quite delicious. I did a post on this last spring if you’d like to read more on how you can eat broccoli leaves.

What other unusual parts of plants have you tried?


Filed under Recipes, what we've learned

24 responses to “5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

  1. Hmm, pea shoots. I’ve seen that but not tried it yet. Done the broccoli and cauliflower leaves and, of course, the beet greens which are delicious! Never the cilantro roots. As I’ve got a bunch bolting in the front yard right now, I’ll have to check out the recipes.

  2. Hi Kendra

    Did you hear that Baker Creek is opening a store in Petaluma? I am so thrilled!!!

    Here’s the press release


    I’m seriously tempted to give up my finance career and become a seed sales clerk 🙂

    Happy gardening!


    • asonomagarden

      Hi Sarah, I did hear that. They just sent us a letter yesterday. I told Scott he needs to quit his job in database management and become a seed store manager. Glad to hear that you’ll be working together 🙂 We might be poor, but with a good discount on seeds at least!

  3. The peach leaf idea sounds tasty…anything peach has got to be good!

  4. I agree that the peach leaf in the custard sounds romantically declicious. I use pea shoots in fried rice and love it. My most unusual food last year was to juice rose geranium leaves with apples. Added with a bit of ginger and mint it was an instant elixir for anything. I planted a few of them this year for more. I love this topic. Thank you.

    • asonomagarden

      Hi Katrina, we have about five different scented geraniums and that juice sounds devine. Now I just need a juicer!

  5. Great ideas! I really enjoy this blog 🙂

  6. Allium buds and peach leaves? How absolutely wonderful. I had no idea you could eat those.

    I’ve only just found out (in the last 6 months) that you can eat radish and turnip leaves. It almost pains me to think of all those years I’ve just been throwing them out. Now more lovely “leftovers” to eat!

  7. Wow, the pea shoots might be a good one when you’re using pea straw as mulch. It grows so many baby peas, but I haven’t been eating them when I pull them up.

  8. I love broccoli stems. They’re great in stir-fries.

    Interesting that about peach leaves

  9. Why Bloc

    Wild tiger lilly buds! Take them before they blossom and sauté them with garlic and butter or olive oil. My husband and I made them once on a long bike trip when we were starting to experiment with wild foods, and they were so good that we couldn’t get enough of them. They have a mild nutty buttery flavor and an asparagus-like texture. Also, young dandelion leaves cooked as spinach but a bit longer, and very young milkweed buds brought to a quick boil twice (each time in new water, then cooked shortly with a pat of butter and salt&pepper. The milk weed was my least favorite, but only because the leaves retain a very slight fuzziness even when well cooked. The flavor is very nice.

    • asonomagarden

      Wow, wild tiger lily buds! It would be hard to pick and eat them though because they are so beautiful, but it sounds like they are delicious!

  10. Pingback: Edible Things in Your Garden « Gardora.net

  11. Jeanne

    I just added a post to my blog about eating daylilies and musk mallow planty, and WordPress obliginly referred me to this post — more things for me to try!

  12. Pingback: Another Edible Flowering Plant « Living by the Cowichan

  13. Sharon Campbell-Zeni

    I love this topic! I have recently married and moved to Australia, myself, but I came from Sonoma County. I’m trying to encourage a wider palate in my husband, by introducing more greens and so on, as well as gardening to grow our produce. This really helps to expand my knowledge on edible foods. Your post came up when I was researching about the edibility of cauliflower leaves. 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  14. Karen Ryle

    Hi, these tips are great.
    I wanted to know about broccoli leaves, because I’m growing them this year, and I use the stalks in stir fries. But, just to add to the list of edible shoots, I’ve also picking the young shoots and leaves of my pumpkin vine. I steam them, add them to stir fries, or saute in butter with onion or garlic. They’re delicious, and slightly nutty. The vine puts out more shoots in a few days time.


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  17. Cool article. I found it because I just decided to try coriander root from my garden, and after harvesting and cleaning thought I better look up if it was safe! The link to recipes was a bonus, thanks. Off to make some curry now.

  18. green thumb tom

    BEWARE lillies can be pousinous, when in doubt dont eat it, better safe in the garden, than dead in the garden

  19. Paul

    Sweet potato leaves in stir fry

  20. jc

    I just tasted one of my delicious looking, crispy squash leaves that a late nite storm severed from the plant. It tasted like celery or more like a green bean. I bet it would great in a salad.

  21. “I bet chive buds would also be good.”

    They are. I actually let them bloom, then sprinkle them raw on salad– tasty AND pretty.

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