Malva is an edible weed that tastes like spinach. All parts of the plant are edible and it has no poisonous look-a-likes. Malva is also called cheeseweed because the flower bud looks like a cheese wheel. Malva is simple to use in spinach recipes from raw salads and smoothies to quiches and sautees.
I see it growing all over the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley in the fall about a month after the rains begin. In January and February I harvest as much of it as I can. I have harvested it in March and April, but it is a lot harder to find leaves that are not full of bug eggs. I tried eating the leaves with bug eggs and don’t like the tangy flavor except with a Chinese Hoison sauce.
I blanch and freeze Malva in 10 ounce packages to make it easy to use in spinach recipes. I dehydrate it, then sprinkle it in soups, breads and many other foods for added nutrition. I used up last season’s Malva in December and now have an idea how much I should be storing up for next year.
For salads I choose fresh young leaves up to 2 inches in size. Later in the season, the leaf texture (in even the smaller leaves) is not tender enough to enjoy in salads, but tastes fine cooked or in smoothies. This is because the older Malva gets tough, stringy and has a slimy okra texture that I am not in to. Cooking resolves the texture issue. My family’s favorite meal is chicken Malva soup, and those are the only ingredients!
By the end of March the flowers start budding and have a tangy flavor I don’t like except in stuffed grape leaves. The largest Malva leaves are not as big as grape leaves, but they are a tasty substitute for grape leaves and are easy to work with.
I have been eating Malva for years. Last year was the first time I froze and dried it to enjoy all year. I am so happy with the results I hope to do this every year. My goal is to learn how to forage for free organic food and medicine — beginning with my yard! Ironically, I was looking for edible weeds in my yard because I was frustrated with the garden I have NOT started, yet. Foraging is so much easier than establishing a garden.
My personal experience with Malva is that it is both a food and a medicine. I have chronic pain due to a damaged hip. I have learned that inflammation management is my pain management and have done a lot of research on natural anti-inflammatory foods. I thought eating Malva made me feel great because it is a fresh organic green. Last year, I found out that Malva is also an anti-inflammatory!
I eat half to one whole tightly packed cup of fresh Malva each day from January through April. It feels almost as effective as an 800 ibuprofen. To say I LOVE Malva doesn’t say it strongly enough.
Malva grows all over the world. It is commonly called Mallow outside of the U.S. It is also known as Cheeseweed, Cheeses, Common Mallow, Dwarf Mallow, Round-leaved Mallow, Running Mallow, Round Dock, Umbrella Mall, Malvaceae and Zulu Spinach.
There are warnings related to Malva, such as Malva is toxic to pasture animals, but they seem to be in the same category as chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats. So please take responsibility for your health and educate yourself before consuming anything. For more information, visit:
I have always wanted to learn more about foraging for wild edibles, aka wildcrafting. The following are wonderful sites I want to explore more deeply. Check back. This section will be added to.
- http://lifesourceherbaltea.com/malva-leaves.html – benefits of malva
- http://www.israelikitchen.com/eating-local/stuffed-mallows-an-edible-weed – Stuffed Mallows at Israeli Kitchen – December 17, 2009
- https://www.facebook.com/IsraeliKitchen – She often posts about edible weeds.
- http://www.sarahmelamed.com/2010/01/gourmet-weeds-mallow-and-nettle – Nettle Mallow Pie – Sarah Melamed – January 8, 2010
- https://www.facebook.com/Foodculture – Sarah Melamed
- http://www.henriettesherbal.com/faqs/medi-2-21-mallow.html – Mallow Soup – Henriette’s Herbal
- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Henriette-Kress/139548692731326# – About the amazing Finnish herbalist Henriette Kress
- http://www.henriettesherbal.com/archives/best/1995/mallow.html – Marshmallows – Henriette’s Herbal – 1995
- https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=877029878979012&set=a.231624676852872.83536.231001546915185&type=1 – Malva is a natural remedy for radiation exposure.
- http://www.365daysofkale.com/2009/02/freezing-kale.html – Freezing Instructions at 365 Days of Kale! – February 11, 2009
- http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/64513 – Gardener’s Notes at Dave’s Garden
- Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes by Jean Craighead George. Available at our library.
- http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Herbs-Simple-Recipes-ebook/dp/B00BGHGQBS – Available at our library.
- http://www.pentonag.com/wssa/wrm – Herbicide Resistance in Weeds – “Due to the extensive use of herbicides to control weeds without the implementation of best management practices to prevent the occurrence of herbicide resistance, populations of weeds with resistance to one or more herbicides continue to increase within the USA….” – BE CAREFUL about where you gather your weeds!
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tw8DcGAGmo – EatTheWeeds – Purslane – Jul 11, 2009 – grows in Hemet in June-July
- http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/power-packed-purslane.aspx#axzz2XoDfi7KN – Purslane is super health food.
- http://www.commonsensehome.com/common-mallow – Check out her awesome series called “Wildcrafting Wednesdays.”
- http://www.foragingtexas.com/search/label/Arid%2FDry – Foraging in arid and dry areas
- Check back. I will continue to add to it.