Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lucky Three Leaf Clover


A few weeks ago we learned about the sour candy-tasting wood sorrel, or oxalis, weed growing throughout the greenhouse.  This lip-puckering plant was never sowed purposely at the farm, but is one of the native edible plants, along with chickweed, that just happen to be prevalent in this area.  Well ever since we discovered how interesting and sharp this stuff tastes, Matt hasn't been able to keep his mind off of it.  As you can see, addiction causes people to do some crazy things... like roll around in a pile of wood sorrel for example.  

As we all now know, weeds are just plants growing unintentionally.  Although unexpected, this does not mean that they can't be both delicious and profitable as well.

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
It looks similar to clover although three leaves are plenty and tastes completely different.  Clover can have a very flat flavor unlike the pop you get with wood sorrel.  The sour flavor is a signal that you shouldn't eat too much (i.e. over 1 pound in a sitting).  It's not dangerous, it's just that there is so much concentrated oxalic acid blocking your body from absorbing the nutrients found in this plant.  By simply lightly cooking it, you decrease the oxalic acid, release the nutrients, but lose that lovely sour taste.

An old friend to many, chickweed is a fairly common plant which has a spinachy taste.  It has tons of vitamins and minerals and even holds many internal and external medicinal qualities.

Knowing Matt's obsession with wood sorrel, coupled with the need to clean up some of the beds overrun by these tasty weeds, the Captain gave us the assignment of harvesting them.  The chickweed's edibility, both raw and cooked, would be a good sell at the market and wood sorrel's delightful sourness would be a great addition to some summer margaritas, there was profitability scattered throughout the greenhouse and it was our job to gather it, weigh it and store it.

Matt was excited about this task to say the least.

So we grabbed some buckets and got to work.

Right from the start we encountered some funky looking food.  First we found these hidden radishes, quite different from the ones we were used to.

Not sure what to expect, we did the obvious and bit right into these long, odd, cartoon character-looking things.  Creepy, but it does look like a face and body with long green hair.

As expected, same great radish taste and same great spicy kick to it only longer.

But that's not all.  Soon after, I found what I thought to be a "normal" round white radish.  I was way off.  It tasted sweeter and juicer almost like a fruit.  So I stored it for a while and waited for the Captain to give us the breakdown.

Then he blew our minds.  These "radishes" were no radishes at all, but turnips instead.  I think this was the first time I've ever eaten a turnip, but it most definitely will not be my last.  This plant was packed with flavor and was a little softer than a radish, but you could have fooled me before I tried one.

Lives changed, lessons learned...we got back to work and once Matt and I had harvested enough we went on to weighing.

Just like high school science class, always remember to use the tare function to  weigh your load without having to subtract the weight of the bin manually.  Then document the weight and do it all over again.

Once weighed out, Matt dropped these bins off in the fridge to store them until they were ready to sell.  It's important to keep the harvested plants in cold storage so that they don't wilt and lose flavor.  Market plants on the right, restaurant plants on the don't want to mix those up.

Meanwhile back at the beds, we were introduced to a brother of wood sorrel, red vein sorrel.  A real looker too.  Red vein sorrel appears nothing like it's 3 leaf brother growing right above it.

With it's bright green leaves and blood red veins, it still has the same sour, tangy taste as wood sorrel, which was totally unexpected upon first glance.

Another beautiful/productive day at the farm and although I love Manhattan, this is a pretty tough landscape to leaf behind...but there's always next time.


  1. "this is a pretty tough landscape to leaf behind"

    i c what u did there

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