The hidden harvests you didn’t know your crops offer
16th July 2019
Discover the lesser-known pickings you can get from your plot
Many of us grow fruit and veg for their traditional yields that can be used in many dishes. However, a large number of edibles have parts that can be used as lesserknown harvests, making sure you get the very most out of your plants and ensure a waste-free season. Take a look at these helpful pointers.
Dahlias have been bred for hundreds of years exclusively for the size and colour of their flowers. However, their tubers are in fact edible! There are those with crunchy textures akin to water chestnuts or yacon and those with flavours ranging from spicy apple to celery root or even carrot. A lot depends on the variety and the soil in which that it grew. It is believed that the big cactus-like flower types tend to produce the largest, juiciest roots with the yellow and red types generally firmer and nuttier than the rest.
You might think that your crop has been ruined if radish plants are allowed to bolt, but if you are patient then you will be rewarded with the small crunchy pods that this edibles produces in this state. They have a fantastic flavour and are great when added to stir fries.
As you lift your prized roots from the ground be sure to save their leafy green tops, too. Beetroot leaves can be used in salads and have a wonderful, subtly sweet flavour. They are also bright and colourful which will make any dish look more inviting.
If you fancy a different kind of harvest from your crops then courgette flowers are an excellent one to try. Often used in Italian cooking, these flowers will transform your cooking from ordinary to refined. Cook them in batter as soon after picking as possible.
Did you know that carrots are related to parsley? Due to this family connection, the feathery tops of this root can also be eaten in a variety of ways. Add them to soups and stocks for depth of flavour or consider sautéing with a little bit of garlic and olive oil for a different version of fresh greens.
Raspberry leaves for tea
Their juicy red berries may be incredibly inviting, but the leaves of raspberry canes can also be picked and strained. Doing so makes a refreshing and calming cup of tea and is an incredibly inventive way to create even more harvests.
Make good use of the whole of this edible by cutting away the leaves and using them in your cooking. They are a great source of Vitamin A which is essential for maintaining healthy hair and skin. The tops have a sharp, spicy flavour and to avoid any bitterness try blanching them before consumption.
Sweet potato leaves
Used in the same way as spinach, sweet potato leaves may a tasty and nutritious picking from planter matter that you might have otherwise disposed of or composted. Briefly boiling the foliage in a little bit of water will remove any toughness or bitter taste. They are also packed with goodness, containing high levels of vitamin A and C and plenty of antioxidants.
If you’re looking for a decorative garnish on any dish of your choice, then coriander flowers will certainly do the trick. They can also be added to salads for their subtle flavour. Alternatively, leave the flowers on and wait for the flavoursome seeds that really pack a punch of taste.
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