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Making Mallow Seed Capers

Updated: Jun 20


Common Mallow Seed Capers

Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), a plant with many names including Cheese Mallow, Buttonweed, Cheese Weed, Round Dock, Cheeses, and Malice, is often dismissed as a weed. However, this versatile plant is not only edible but also has medicinal properties, making it a fascinating subject for foragers, herbal medicine enthusiasts, and foodies alike. 


Lately, I’ve been getting into the mindset that there are no weeds, only plants whose uses I’ve yet to discover. It started with Yarrow, Mullein, and Dandelion. From there, I’ve moved on to Plantain and now Common Mallow! I’m excited to share all my newfound plant friends with you as I spend this summer foraging and preparing as much as possible from around our property. The best part about this recipe is that if you want fewer Common Mallow plants in your garden, harvesting a cup of the seed pods for this recipe will significantly reduce their numbers for next season. 


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The History of Common Mallow

Common Mallow, with its roots rich in mucilage, a sticky, jelly-like substance that gives Mallow its anti-inflammatory properties, has a profound history in both holistic medicine and culinary use. It has been used for centuries to heal digestive and urinary tract irritations and control coughs caused by inflammation. As an edible weed, is is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, sodium, iodine, vitamin B complex, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Its legacy in herbal medicine is a testament to its potency and versatility.


But my favorite bit of mallow folklore? Its purported powers of sexual magic. In his 1856 book Natural History, Pliny the Elder asserted that the mallow seed was an aphrodisiac that, when sprinkled “for the treatment of women,” stimulated sexual desire to “an infinite degree.” Leaving us all wondering how Pliny discovered this arousing fact. 

Identifying Common Mallow

Finding and Identifying Common Mallow

Native to Europe, Common Mallow is now found all over the world, including most of the United States. It can be found in disturbed or neglected areas, including gardens, landscape and lawn edges, barnyards, roadsides, railroad tracks, and vacant lots.


Depending on the climate, the plant can be an annual, winter annual, or biennial. Mallow is easily recognized by its geranium-like leaves paired with unassuming flowers that are typically white with pink or purple streaks. It has a single, deep-running tap root, and the fruits or seeds resemble a miniature wheel of cheese with wedge-shaped sec, which is where the name Cheese Mallow comes in.


How to clean foraged plants

What Does Common Mallow Taste Like?

Common Mallow, a frequent ingredient in Turkish cuisine, offers a mild, almost neutral taste that adapts beautifully to its culinary companions. Its leaves, stems, and flowers can be enjoyed raw in salads, cooked like spinach, crisped in the oven like kale chips, or used as a thickener for soups and stews, much like okra. The fruits or nuts, with their mild nutty flavor, are a delightful addition to any dish, whether eaten raw or pickled. And let's not forget the deep-growing tap roots, which can be boiled and cooked, similar to potatoes. The possibilities are endless!


Common Mallow Seeds

Making Mallow Seed Capers

Mallow Seed Capers are a unique and wild foraged twist on traditional capers, and they take no time to whip up.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup vinegar

  • ½ tablespoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 1 - garlic clove

  • 1 - bay leaf

  • 5-8 peppercorns

Directions:

  • Thoroughly clean and pat dry your seed pods, then place them in a small glass jar. To the jar, add the garlic clove and bay leaf.

  • Place water, vinegar, salt, sugar and peppercorns in a small saucepan and bring to a boil for one minute, then pour over the ingredients in the jar.

  • Allow to cool slightly on the counter, then place in the fridge to brine for one month or until the desired flavor has been reached.

  • Continue to store in the fridge for up to 3 months.


Eat Your Weeds!

I hope you’ve found this interesting and informative. If you decide to try eating your weeds and giving this recipe a try, or if you have a favorite recipe for Common Mallow, tell us all about it in the comments below. And hopefully, the next time you see this plant in your garden, you will consider letting it grow and viewing it as food rather than a weed. Until next time,


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Mallow Seed Capers

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