Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide

I'm so pleased with this recipe for wild crackers - they're so easy! Prepared in minutes and slow-baked to create a crisp texture that lasts well and is ideal for wild salsa verde, local cheese with wilds or how ever you like to top your crackers!

I used wild-harvested seeds from common weeds (see below) and my optional nettle powder for a green version. Using wild seeds are a great way of increasing your nutrition and using abundant plants growing locally.

I also have a seaweed version of these crackers, for a more umami flavour.

Bunch of plaintain seed heads on my kitchen table

These nutritious crackers are boosted with ribwort plantain seeds (Plantago lanceolata) but you could use the seeds from any of the plaintain family. Yes, that's right, these seeds are edible and everywhere!

Where can you find plantain growing?

Plantain is not a fussy grower! It happily grows on wasteland, dry soil, in wet bogs, coastal areas, on mountains, in towns and gardens. It is one of the largest plant families found all over the world with around 200 species.

Is plantain the same as the banana type of plantain?

Although it shares the same name, these two plantains are unrelated. Here I am talking about plantago not bananas!

What are the most common plantains in the UK?

Greater plantain (Plantago major) and ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) are the most common plantains in the UK - see images above. Greater plantain has the broad leaves and ribwort has the long ones.

Is plantain good for you?

Plantain has been used for thousands of years as a food and medicine. The leaves, flowers and seeds can all be used. Traditionally used for coughs and bronchitis, plaintains are rich in minerals and the seeds are full of fibre and protein too.

Plantain crackers and salsa verde on a picnic table

Plantain Seed Cracker Recipe

Easy, tasty and all-round great homemade crackers! These also happen to be vegan.

I used ribwort plantain seeds for this recipe, because they were nearby. However, greater plantain has longer seed heads, so do harvest these instead if you find them! You could also vary the mix and amounts of seeds according to what you have, this recipe is based on what I had to hand.

Preparing the plantain seeds

For this recipe I use green seeds in early summer. Later in the summer I could use the dried, smaller ones, these will weigh a lot lighter though. The seeds should be visible on the stems. Just rub the stems and seed heads and they should come off easily. If they don't it means they are still flowers and haven't gone to seed yet.

Homeamde nettle and plantain crackers, ready to bake
Before baking....

Makes 28 (approx)

  • Ingredients
  • 135 g /1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 20 g /2 tbsp linseeds
  • 20 g /1/2 cup green plantain seeds
  • 1 tsp seaweed salt or sea salt
  • 7 g /2 tbsp nettle powder (optional)
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 g wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 200 ml boiled hot water

Optional topping

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp nettle powder

In a large mixing bowl, combine the seeds, salt and flour, then add the oil and boiling water and stir well. It will resemble stiff, soggy porridge. If you like you can halve the mixture and add green nettle powder to one batch for a different, earthy flavour.

Preheat the oven to 140ºC /fan 120ºC and roll out the dough between two sheets of silicone or baking paper to the thickness of one seed. Cut into rectangles, about 5 cm x 2 cm and using a spatula, peel off and place on a clean baking sheet in two large baking trays.

Nettle and soy sauce paste

Optional topping: I had a great idea to add a soy sauce and nettle powder coating to the plain crackers. They didn't turn out quite as I wanted (visually) but tasted delicious! So here it is, do adapt this to make it better - I'm sure you can!

Bake for 1 hr or a little more until light brown and crisp. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Plantain crackers and salsa verde on a picnic table

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are a common weed that are often overlooked or taken for granted. Yet they are so good for us!

Here I share 5 health benefits of eating (or drinking) dandelions. Plus tips on where to find them, as well as common mistakes with identifying dandelions and 4 simple ways to incorporate dandelions into your diet.

How important are dandelions?

By the way, dandelions have been cultivated in areas of Europe and North America for over 150 years. That's how valuable and important they are!

5 Reasons to Eat (or Drink) Dandelions

  1. Ask anyone about eating a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and they might quote the dandelion's diuretic properties. It's French name being 'pissenlit' or 'wet the bed'. Though few people know that dandelions are a very mild diuretic, and diuretics tend to flush potassium out of the body. Though dandelions also contain potassium, thus replacing what is flushed out - that's good!
  2. The dandelion's latin name refers to its many health benefits, the Greek word taxaros meaning disorder and akos meaning remedy (2). Dandelions contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, some Bs, C, D and K.
  3. The 'dent de lion'  (Lion's tooth)  also contain significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron and folate.
  4. Dandelions can have a mild detoxing action as bitters benefit the liver.
  5. Dandelions can stimulate digestion and improve gut bacteria (through the presence of inulin).

Where to find Dandelions

Isn't it just the way; when you want to find dandelions, there just don't seem to be any, anywhere. So here are some tips. In general, they like to grow on various grassy areas, parks and wild mountainous ranges, but below is some more specific information.

In the UK there are two most common types of dandelions and about 250 types in all, though some are quite rare and others quite distinct from each other. The two most common are;

Ruderalia (121 species) type of dandelions grow well on grassy areas, meadows, waysides and waste places. Erythrosperma (30 species) are more slender and thrive in warm, dry and sunny spots such as chalk grassland, heaths and dunes.

How to correctly identify dandelions

As you can see from the images above, the shape of dandelion leaves can vary depending on the variety. However, they all have a toothed edge AND a hollow stem that created a milky sap when snapped. The stems are not branched, nor solid. That is how to make sure you've found dandelions and not one of its common cousins.

4 simple ways to incorporate dandelions into your diet

  1. Dandelions are bitter, so if you're cooking them it is good to cook them separately in a little water for 2-3 minutes, then drain them and add them into whatever you're cooking. Start with small amounts - think a teaspoon rather than 50 g.
  2. Chop finely and sprinkle as a garnish. Again, think small amounts.
  3. Pour boiling water on a couple of chopped leaves and leave to infuse for 5 minutes and drink as a tea (sweeten if needed).
  4. Add leaves into salad and mix with other leaves and serve with a honey or mustard dressing.

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