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Making Mallow Seed Capers

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Mallow Seed Capers

Common Mallow (Malva neglecta), also known as Cheese Mallow, Buttonweed, Cheese Weed, Round Dock, Cheeses, and Malice, is often considered a weed. But did you know that not only is the whole plant edible, it’s also medicinal?

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 with you all my newfound plant friends as I spend this summer foraging and preparing as much as I can from around our property. The best part about this recipe is that if you would like to see 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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A Note of Caution

Before we start, let me remind you I am not a trained forager or certified herbalist of any kind, and I have no professional training. Harvesting and eating unidentified wild plants can be dangerous or even deadly. Some plants have parts that are safe, and some that are toxic.

Others have close cousins or lookalikes who are toxic. If you don’t believe me, just consider the tomato, which is part of the same plant family (Solanaceae) as Belladonna and Mandrake. And though we eat the fruit of the tomato plant regularly, the leaves and stems are poisonous. The information here is intended to be fun and educational, not necessarily instructional. It is absolutely crucial to be 100% sure that what you’re eating has been correctly identified and is safe to ingest.

The History of Common Mallow

Common Mallow has a long history in both holistic medicine and culinary use. Medicinal because its roots, in particular, have a substantial amount of mucilage, a sticky, jelly-like substance that gives Mallow its anti-inflammatory properties. Historically, the herb has been used to heal digestive and urinary tract irritations and even control coughs caused by inflammation. Culinary because it’s a nutritional powerhouse containing calcium and magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, sodium, iodine, vitamin B complex, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

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 to wonder 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.

The plant can be an annual, winter annual, or biennial depending on the climate. 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.

What Does Common Mallow Taste Like?

Common Mallow is consumed frequently in Turkey and has a mild, almost non-existent flavor that lends itself well to taking on the flavors of the ingredients around it. The leaves, stems, and flowers can be eaten raw in salads. The leaves can also be cooked, similar to spinach, crisped in the oven like kale chips, or used as a thickener for soups and stews, much like okra. The fruits or nuts have a mild nutty flavor and are delightfully crisp and mildly nutty when eaten raw, or they can be pickled like we’re going to do in this recipe. The deep-growing tap roots can be boiled and cooked, similar to potatoes.

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.


  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup vinegar

  • ½ tablespoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 1 - garlic clove

  • 1 - bay leaf

  • 5-8 peppercorns


  • 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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