Lambs Quarter

Lambs Quarter at the dairy farm

Botanical name: Chenopodium album

Common names: fat hen (used for fattening poultry), goosefoot, pigweed, and wild spinach


Plant type: clumping 6-9 foot annual
leaf: diamond shaped, wavy teeth margins, pale green whitish underneath, alternate branching


Early leaves most tender, but can be harvested through till frost, collect seeds in the fall. lambs quarter leaves are best when eaten from a plant less than a foot tall, larger leaves are better cooked. Keep farming it to keep the leaves tender

Grows in back alleys, unmoved lawns, vacant lots

Leaves use as a wild spinach substitute, salads, stir fry, soups, casseroles, grind seeds into dark flour to make gruel or bread
leaves dry well and can be reconstituted – powder to make flour
Dried leaves make a delicious flour, mix with a bit of water to make a tortilla

Nutrition (per half cup)
Lambs quarter seeds

Protein 19.6 grams
Fat 4.2 grams
Carbos 57.7 grams
Fiber 27.1 grams
Calcium 1036 mg
Potassium 1687 mg
Niacin 3800 ug
Iron 64 mg

Lambs quarter Shoots
Protein 3.5 g
Carbos 5.5 g
Calcium 324 mg
Potassium 684 mg
Beta Carotene 3800 ug
Niacin 1000 ug
Iron 1.5 mg

Health Benefits
1. Use all parts as a pout lice for swelling, rheumatism and arthritis
2. Chew raw for toothaches
3. Gelatin capsules filled with Lambsquarter make a potent vitamin

FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL
1. Lambs quarter is the second highest in nutrition of all wild foods. Amaranth is #1
2. The gritty feel is pollen…rinse well :)
3. Lambs 1/4 seed is excellent bird feed
4. Dye color: bright yellow

A few  CAUTIONS
1. Lambs quarter can absorb nitrate from contaminated soil so be careful where you harvest this plant
2. Lambs quarter has a poisonous look-a-like (Nettleleaf goosefoot) but it’s rank odor reveals it’s identity
3. Lambs quarter is a relative of spinach. Avoid too much raw consumption of plants with heavy oxalic acid content. Cooking will destroy some of the oxalic acid but for salad and smoothies use lemon juice to neutralize the oxalic acid and help prevent kidney stones.

Recipes
Since Lambs quarter tastes almost exactly like spinach you can substitute it for spinach in any way you wish. Casseroles, steamed, creamed, in salad, stir fries, quiches, eggs, dips…
It is far tastier than spinach, in my opinion, and it’s FREE! It is hard to kill and needs no cultivating being a self respecting weed.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for Lambsquarter adapted from Wildman Steve Brill’s fabulous cook book, The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook.
Lambs quarter Spread
2 cloves garlic
1 small red onion
3 cups Lambs 1/4 leaves
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup toasted nuts (I use walnuts or almonds)
1/3 cup kalamata olives
2 T miso
1 T chili paste or 1 t cayenne pepper or to taste
1. chop the garlic in a food processor
2. add the onion chop
3. add the remaining ingredients and process or chop until finely chopped
Makes 2 1/2 cups

Serve with pita chips or as a spread on a healthy sandwich

Holly’s Lambsquarter Ramblings

October 21

Yesterday, I ventured over to the local organic farm to see if the low dips in night time temps had destroyed my inexhaustible stash of lambsquarters, dandelion and purslane. Well the purslane was history and so was the amaranth but the lambsquarters and dandelion were still stretching as far as the eye can see along the rows of the remaining frozen and thawed cantaloupes. I am thrilled to have cashed in one more time on these wild foods and am hoping to preserve them for use during the winter months.

I am stripping the lambsquarter seeds off and, when dry, will store them in mason jars. Not sure how to preserve the dandelion greens but I’ll read your book again and find out.

The dandelion roots are fabulously huge. Perhaps I’ll roast some for coffee, tincture some and cook with the rest.  I also dug up some yellow dock root, but haven’t located first year burdock leaves to harvest their nutritious roots yet.

The back of my truck bed was full of weedy goodness, now my kitchen is a complete disaster.  I do so love a good mess!

November 13

I just got home from a perfect day.The weather was Spring like, low 70′s, brilliant blue skies dotted with a few puffy clouds…. I headed to the local organic farm to see what was left to forage.On the way I stopped at a cemetery to look for Burdock (on a hunch) found lots of seeds for decoctions but no first year rosettes… oh well I will keep up the search.The dairy farm is next to the melon patch that I forage in. The cows were extra curious today and kept blocking my truck as I tried to get closer to my goal… I think they were feeling the magic of such a delectable day too!

My haul was about 30 dandelion plants, mostly the roots but some tasty looking leaves. These babies are hugemongus as they grow in this amazing flood plain soil in a cultivated organic garden so their roots were quite long. Not having the correct digging tool I broke off most of them after 8 inches or so, but I got a LOT!

Walking the endless rows of Lambsquarters I was tickled to hear the delightful sound of seeds falling to the ground as I brushed by. I captured several gallons of them for spreading and gifting to others as well as to make flour with and gruel.

All summer I’ve been on the prowl for Shepherds Purse. It’s heart shaped seed pockets are so cute looking in photos that I just knew it had to be somewhere and easy to identify. No luck, till today.. they were tucked in amongst the Amaranth, Lambsquarters, Plantain, Dandelion and Chamomile. Once I identified them they seemed to sprout up everywhere I looked.   Amperception!

This farm is so vast, I’ve never been able to explore even a 1/5 of it so I’m hopeful for what other treasures are waiting to be discovered on another day.

It occurred to me as I lugged my finds onto the porch, that my work has only begun. Foraging is only part of the adventure, waiting for me are lots of roots to scrub clean, tinctures and vinegars to be made, drying and storing to be done.

My friend and I compared our findings as if we had been in different sections of a fancy store and found great deals to purchase.

Foraging certainly scratches that shopping itch, and the price is right!