Dandelion is one of the more well-known of the edible wild plants of New York State. Dandelions are a good source of vitamin A, iron, calcium, silicon, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, D and B. Harvest the leaves before the flowers appear or in the late fall after the first frost. They won't be so bitter then. Use them in salads or sautee` or steam them. The flowers can be eaten or used to make wine.
Amaranth is more commonly known as pigweed and all parts of the plant are edible. The leaves alternate on the stem, which can be all green or have a bit of red. The flowers are green and grow in bunches on the top of the plant. There can be sharp spines that need to be removed before cooking. Pick young plants or the new growth on old ones and don't forget the seeds. Shake the top of the plant and the seeds will fall out. The plants can be boiled or eaten raw. Amaranth is high in vitamin A, B-6, C, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
Garlic mustard, also known as Jack-by-the-hedge, is a native of Europe but grows wild in New York State. It is considered an invasive plant, so the more of it you use, the better. You can find garlic mustard growing in open woodland areas. The leaves at the base are heart-shaped and dark green with a scalloped edge that can be as much as 5 inches wide. On the stalk, they are three-sided and smaller.
The flower looks like one of its close relatives, broccoli. Garlic mustard is great raw in salads, mixed with milder greens. Garlic mustard can be eaten raw, but it can have a sharp taste. It can be steamed, simmered or sautéed, but no longer than 5 minutes.
Burdock matures in its second year, when it produces burrs on long and sturdy stems. The leaves are arrow-shaped with wavy leaves and the flowers, which can be pink or purple, grow in clusters. The young leaf stalks can be eaten raw or cooked like other greens and the roots can be boiled or baked. Burdock root is high in vitamins A, B complex, C, E and P as well as chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and zinc, with lower amounts of calcium, copper, manganese and selenium.
Nettles should be harvested and eaten just after the shoots start to appear and before the flowers appear. Cook the leaves for just a minute or less to get rid of the stinging sensation. They can be cooked in water or garlic with butter or oil. Nettles are high in beta-carotene, and B complex vitamins and have more protein than any other vegetable.