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Narrow Leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)



Narrow Leaf Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

The narrow leaf plantain is a very common 30 to 50cm plant, which you can find on many meadows and lawns across the whole Europe.


I just came across it last week, when I was passing by a horse pasture and remembered that it also has some interesting culinary and medicinal values to write about.

Now in early May, just the leaves are showing up, which are full of tannins and therefore can aid in helping to stop small bleedings of wounds, when applied to them as a paste.

The crushed leaves are also described to have antihistaminic properties and are therefore also a good treatment against the first insect stings and bites of the year or Prepared as a tea or mixed with honey to a syrup, the leaves are also traditionally used as a medicine against a cough.

If you want to use the leaves in a dish, you should be careful about the level of bitterness and should maybe just harvest the young leaves or combine the older leaves with something sweet and fruity.


In addition, you should also cut the leaves against the leave fibres, when you are going to use the older leaves of the plant raw.

In May and early June, the narrow Leaf Plantain develops its first buds, which have a very mushroom-like flavour and can be lightly fried in a pan as a mushroom substitute or snack. In addition, you can also prepare a mushroom taste like stock out of them.


To use the buds as a mushroom substitute you have to pick them when the just turned from green to brown, but before they start opening. This is when the buds have developed their full flavour and are not dry and have already lost their chlorophyll taste.


Next to the leaves and buds, also the roots can be eaten. From October onwards you can start digging out the roots and cook or fry them like you would do with normal root vegetables, but they are very thin and reach up to 60cm into the soil, which makes it hard to dig them out and to clean.


They have a slightly nutty bitter taste which can add some more depth to dishes, but I actually prefer to leave them in the soil and come back next year to harvest the leaves and the buds again and that is what you maybe also should consider doing, when you give the narrow leaf plantain its first try.


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