Having so much flora here on the urban homestead one never really gets to figuring out all the ways one can go about using and preparing all the different parts of a plant- there’s the fruit, flowers, roots, shoots, leaves etc that are edible and even useful but overtime we’ve lost all that know how and just gone for the same ol food fare that’s served up in our mega markets.

Before the big chill of 2007 we had quite a few clusters of banana plants around the urban homestead, we even harvested quite a few pounds of bananas (boy were the delicious!). Now we are down to one huge clump that’s thriving near the outdoor solar shower.  Justin is saving a few pups so hopefully we can increase our banana population but with the wacky weather who knows if we’ll ever be successful at growing bananas again.

One of our clients who regularly picks up produce from DerVaes Garden asked if we sold banana stalks.  I replied “you mean leaves right?”  “No, the stalks, stems,”  she replied.  Well, I never heard of eating the stalks.  So I asked  “really, you eat the stalks?”   “In Indian where I am from we cook with banana stalks, they are a great source of iron.”   “Sure, well get you a stalk” I said,  “we’ll have to cut down a stalk soon so we can get into the shower.”

Curious, I Googled how to use, cook banana stalks.  And, yep, there’s a recipe!

I’ll have to do a bit more googling but it’s a start!

Learn something new everyday.

Just look around you there may be another form of food source growing in your backyard.

Oh, one other thing — poundage.  Justin’s thrilled to hear that he can count the massive stalks as poundage!  That is if I can cook it.

What plants that are growing in your yard or neighborhood that you’ve tried for the first time or experimented in using different parts or ways or preparing?   What’s the most unusual one you’ve eaten or prepared?


  1. John says:

    * We’ve used the cactus pears to make a Southwestern version of a Polish farm drink. In Poland, they would take the summer sour cherry harvest, place some in a bottle or three of vodka, pour in some sugar, and let the whole concoction simmer in a dark cellar until Thanksgiving. We simply replaced the cherries with the cactus fruit. A bit tart, but better-tasting with each sip!

    *We’ve used rose petals to make jam. That was a lot of work.

    * We’re getting a lot of mesquite pods now, and have heard the Pauites used them for baking, but we haven’t looked into how much work is involved in getting the beans out of the pods and ground into flour.

  2. katecontinued says:

    Last year I made a dish from ice plant. It was a recipe from the 1800’s. It was awful – too astringent. What I did discover was the edible fruit of the ice plant. I love the salty, figgy taste of that – though it is tiny and a bit difficult to harvest.

  3. EBee says:

    Is that bamboo in the picture? My grandfather, in Alabama, grew and ate young bamboo shoots. Probably not such an odd backyard food for some people, but in Alabama it was!

  4. Kristin says:

    I don’t have anything as cool as a banana plant, but recently I ate some artichoke. I’ve only eaten it plain one other time when I was little. I didn’t think it was too rare until I went through the checkout and the girl looked so confused, then blushed asking, “Ummm, what is this?” lol Prickly pear cactus is native to Iowa (I know, a cactus grows in Iowa?) and there are quite a few growing wild about 10 miles from here. I wonder if there’s a recipe that includes them.

  5. Nancy says:

    I am growing okra for the first time this summer, a first for me. I have eaten it raw (not that good) and steamed it (a little too slimy) so I am not sure I will grow it again, but I should try battered and deep-fried too. But maybe I will grow it again, it is a beautiful plant that stands up to the heat, pretty yellow flowers too.

    I want to plant some Natal plums, delicious fruit!

  6. betweendreams82 says:

    Not completely rare, but-

    I cook the male zucchini and yellow squash flowers once they wilt at the end of the day, sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan. Or just cooked with the squash itsself.

    We pick the dandelion leaved that grow in the yard and add them t our salad.

    I make tea out of carrot greens and honey..mmm…

  7. SuperMomNoCape says:

    Thanks for the link to the post about using the banana pith. In the comments section of that post, one of the commentors mentioned how he over-winters his banana trees so they don’t freeze and so will then fruit the next year. I’m going to give that a try with ours this fall and see if it will work for here in NW Georgia.

    I originally planted our banana trees because I missed seeing them out my bedroom window like we had in Hawaii. And we also use the leaves to wrap pork roasts in to make kalua pork.

    We were surprized that we had baby ones grow after freezing that first winter and then again this spring. But of course, they don’t produce fruit their first year. Hopefully if this over-wintering method works, we’ll have our own bananas next summer.

  8. gaiasdaughter says:

    I took a class recently on edible wild plants in our region. It turns out that dollar weed, the bane of our garden, is in the carrot family and quite edible! I’ve tried picking the young, tender leaves to add to salads. And yes, they have a mild, carroty taste.

  9. Debra says:

    Squash leaves and flowers, broccoli leaves, and strawberry leaves. Also carrot greens and beet greens.

  10. Daniela says:

    I recently pulled up some ‘weeds’ from our back yard and sauteed them for dinner. Who knew that I’d been throwing out purslane all this time?! It grows pretty much anywhere there’s a patch of bare earth that gets some water up here in the high desert of the SW. It tasted kind of like a cross between spinach and seaweed. Not unpleasant at all, just different! Turns out our chickens LOVE the stuff, too! Whoo hoo!

  11. Jill says:

    My grandmother used to make fried lilies. I’m not sure about all types of lilies, but she cooked the ones that grow wild in Indiana by the side of the road (the orange ones).

  12. Debbie says:

    I’ve been tasting and trying different edibles growing around my house. Strangest for me so far is: Yuka Flowers, Purslane (I always thought it was a weed but it’s delicious in salad), Lambs Quarter and Clover Flowers.

    My kids enjoy trying the different types of things growing in our yard as well. Thanks for the cool post. You learn something new everyday and it’s sometimes surprising what you learn.

  13. Frugal in Mexico says:

    I have lots of banana plants of several kinds. Finding out how to prepare any part of the plant would be useful for me. I did hear that you can eat the big bloom from the banana plant but failed to find out how. Most of the time I click on a web page my laptop freezes. Next week with fast speed Internet I hope to get more information.

  14. Lien says:

    Hi from downunder. Big fan of your blog/family journey.
    Growing up, we ate the banana blooms ( the purple heart).my mother would shred it and add it Vietnamese sour soup similar to the Thai Tom yum soups. You can add it to curries I believe! Very delicious texture of crunchiness.

  15. Lien says:

    Oh by the way if you google banana flower recipes, there is a bunch that come up including for salads, cheers!

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