Henbit fritters, a delicious treat from the first greens of spring

“Mommy! Mommy! You should come out and try the honeysuckle. It is so good!”

“Yes, I’ve heard it’s delicious.”

recipe for henbit fritters

I looked at Mouse, excitedly coaxing me outdoors. I had always wanted to try honeysuckle. So I gathered the children and followed them out the backdoor and up to the playground by the tiny church where we used to live.

“Um, this isn’t honeysuckle.”

She popped a little purple flower in her mouth before I could stop her. Bug and Bear followed her lead as I grabbed their hands and told them to stop.

“You never eat plants if you don’t know what they are.”

“But I do.”

“No, you don’t. You only think you do. I’ll show you a picture of honeysuckle. This isnt it.”

“But it tastes good.”

And such was my introduction to henbit, so called because chickens love it. And it is perfectly edible for humans as well, thankfully. Those little purple flowers are delightfully sweet and with my love of floral jellies, I’ve always wondered what a henbit jelly would taste like. But the flowers are awfully tiny and spaced too far apart for a convenient harvest.

So every spring, my girls sit down by the garden grazing on the tiny purple flowers and I wonder what else I could do with this first green of spring in bloom before even the dandelions.

This year I decided to do something besides wonder.  Instead, we gathered, rinsed and chopped then folded them into a simple batter for henbit fritters. And we served them with the redbud jelly I had just finished processing.

And everyone loved them.

Henbit fritters

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup kefir (or milk)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup diced henbit

Stir dry ingredients. Add liquids and stir until smooth. Fold in henbit and fry in butter. Serve with honey, syrup, jelly or whatever you like.

We are rather new to this whole wildcrafting thing and stick to the things I know or are not easily confused with other, less edible plants. Have you ever eaten wild foods? Or what would you like to try?

(Note: Always be sure of what you are collecting! Here is a resource for identifying henbit. This one seems pretty safe because the mail plant you would possibly confuse it with is also edible!)


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15 thoughts on “Henbit fritters, a delicious treat from the first greens of spring

  1. Except for the occasional branch lettuce, wild onions, or dandelion greens, I’ve always been scared of wildcrafting. I’m sure there are some great books that could help me, but I don’t trust myself not to poison us. 😉

  2. Cindy, I feel sort of the same way. But when I found out that lilacs were edible? It opened a whole world of things that I already recognize! One of the things I look up when trying to identify a plant is whether or not there is anything it could be confused with. Like when I found out that elderberry can be confuses with hemlock, I decided to just not bother with that one even though I think there is quite a bit of it around us!

  3. I am into wildcrafting, but I’ve also spent a good deal of time in botany and learning to ID plants so I’m pretty confident with my IDs, and that’s usually the biggest problem with wildcrafting. We even forage for mushrooms, since our woods grow wild oysters and wood ears and both are delicious in stir fry. As far as plants, I happily eat dandelion greens, sorrel, burdock, nettles, violets, plantain, chickweed, yellow dock and thistle. I have tried a few others that are known to be edible, but I wouldn’t say they are very palatable.

    A good book to get as a companion to any wildcrafting books would be Lewis Nelson’s “A Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants.” I found this absolutely necessary as part of my studies, because many of the wildcrafting books that stray from some of the most basic, well-known plants, have conflicting info on what’s poisonous and what isn’t. (And what does poisonous mean, anyway?). Lewis’ book describes the toxins, the symptoms of poisoning, how much has to be consumed, and the frequency of poisoning from a pretty good number of plants. It’s very helpful if you’ve ever wondered what the skull and crossbones really mean in those “wild edibles” books. That said, I have had to use quite a variety of sources to piece together my wildcrafting knowledge. There is no one good resource that I can recommend.

  4. That’s so neat, Sara. I wish I knew someone I could go out with. I’ve been reading a lot about it but sticking to things I already know. Like roses. They tell me you can eat rose petals and I know a rose. 🙂

    I was reading that accidental hemlock poisoning is increasing because people with no knowledge and no experience go out looking for Queen Anne’s lace and end up making hemlock jelly. Or there was a church function where they thought they were serving elderberry juice and it turned out to be hemlock! (Fortunately, no one got seriously ill, but still. How scary is that?)

    Stories like that keep me from gathering up everything I can find!

  5. For the fritters… Do you chop up the green part as well as the purple (flower) part? I’m assuming you use the green part, too.

  6. Yes, just chop it all up together. My girls eat most of the purple parts while we gather, but I guess that’s payment for helping! 🙂

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  8. I love henbit and enjoy it all the time. It’s best pureed in the food processor, as it can be a bit stringy. I make it in pestos and soups and the like.

    Anyway, be careful with the honeysuckle. While all native varieties are edible, there have been some introduced species which are toxic.

  9. We forage all kinds of wild foods. It started out as a homeschooling project and evolved to where wild foods are now a large part of our diet, which helps with a big family like ours. 🙂 I’ve even written a couple of books on foraging two of our favorite wild foods (elderberries and acorns, which make a delicious gluten free flour). This post is such a coincidence, as henbit was on our list for a new one to try this month!

    1. That’s so cool! Our foraging isn’t any significant part of our diet. Actually, I mostly make jelly out of any edible flowers we can find, but we really enjoy the henbit in the spring!

  10. As a youngster, I enjoyed bluebells, rosehips, chickweed (I was so surprised when my Grandpa ate what I was pulling out of the garden), and lambsquarter, as well as wild cranberries and rasberries. There was only one type of mushroom that we knew wasn’t poisonous (we called them puffballs, not sure of the real name) which grew as white pearls on our green lawn. My Mom fried them in butter. Never did get much of a taste for dandelions. Also, chamomile grows like a weed where I’m from. We never tried making tea from it, but as kids we used to makes darts with chamomile flowers and fox tails.

    1. That’s cool! As a kid, all we did is eat grass while pretending to be horses. Not really wildcrafting by any stretch! There is a variety of things on our property we have tried and some things I would like to try. Mostly, I make jelly out of edible flowers. That’s my favorite hobby. 🙂

  11. I’m still fairly new to wild rafting and foraging hut definitely working in learning more about the abundance of nutritious foods that surround us all the time. Sooooo I tried these tonight. But I had to use milk and then made them savory by adding a bit of garlic powder and onion powder. They were delicious! I wish they were a bit fluffier but I’ll bet using the kefir would help that!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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