I’ve had a Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) plant in my garden for several years now. it has become quite a large clump, and I have to weed out the occasional seedling nearby, but it’s not a problematic plant. It’s often sold as a herb, and has quite a reputation as being one of those perennial vegetables you have to grow.
But it also has quite a reputation for being a plant that no one would eat – a poor relation of spinach and one that should be consigned to the compost heap of history. I did harvest some of the flower spikes one year (for eating like asparagus), but they languished in the fridge without being used.
Alys Fowler wrote a nice piece in praise of Good King Henry last March for the Guardian, and so it made it onto the Project: Nosh list.
And since then I have been on Martin Crawford’s forest gardening course, and he is a big fan as well. And so today I went out into the garden and harvested the flower shoots shown above. I’d already given the plant a good haircut a few weeks ago, so they are smaller than usual, and I left any big shoots to go to seed (as it is also edible).
I steamed the shoots gently and served them for lunch. They were… horrid. Nasty and bitter. Alys’ article explains how to leach the bitterness out of the leaves, but I had thought the flower shoots might be immune. Perhaps I left too much leaf on, maybe it’s a bit too late in the year to eat the flower shoots.
And so today’s Project: Nosh experiment didn’t end in a tasty meal, but that’s OK as it’s part of the process. I will harvest (and leach!) some leaves in due course and see what I think and if I catch seeds before they drop then I’ll try some of those as well.
Alison from Backyard Larder is back with another of her wonderful guest posts tomorrow – about Good King Henry. And if you have any thoughts on this plant, or you’re blogging along with Project: Nosh, then do let me know in the comments!