Common Comfrey is related to both the herb ‘borage’ and the similar plant ‘Russian comfrey.’ Herbalists have used it for centuries, including the classical Greeks and the Turks. Its old English name was ‘knit-bone’ or ‘bone-set’ because its ability to heal wounds.
Comfrey – As a plant feed
Comfrey is often eliminated as a weed from many a garden and plot. It can get a bit out of hand but by no means should it be considered a weed. It is extremely useful as a plant feed. Some reports claim its long roots absorb nutrients usually only taken up by tree roots. It does seem to contain a high number of nutrients and has high amounts of potash, making it an excellent feed for tomatoes. The leaves should be placed into a bucket of water and left until it starts to give of a disgusting smell. The foul smelling liquid (and believe me it does smell bad) can then be diluted and used as a plant feed on most plants on a vegetable plot.
A non-smelly method involves putting the leaves in a bucket with a perforated base. Put this perforated bucket into another one and weigh down the leaves, rather like putting sieve into a bowl. The resulting liquid will make a concentrated feed without the smell.
You can also layer comfrey into a compost heap for a more fertile compost. For more information check out my book Grow your food for free (well almost) .
Comfrey as a food
It has been brought to our notice that many organisations are against the consumption of comfrey as it has been linked with liver damage. Thanks to the reader who told us, we have decided to keep this article up for the time being and let you make your own minds up, the comfrey in the recipes can be substituted for spinach, fat hen, nettle or any number of wild leaves available throughout the year. Please do your own research of scientific literature and make an informed decision before you eat any comfrey.
Comfrey can make an excellent food for both humans and plants alike. It can be a valuable source of B12 if grown in a position where this nutrient is available to the plant. B12 is a strange nutrient and many vegans find it lacking in their diet as it is usually found in meat and dairy products. B12 can be formed by bacteria so is present in many fermented products such as yogurt, soy sauce and Marmite. It can also be present in the soil; it is made as a by-product of many microorganisms present in the soil.
In addition to 0.7mg/100g of B12, they also contain –
|Iron, Calcium, Pro Vitamin A||Trace|
- Ingredients – weights and measures conversion chart
- One Onion
- Garlic to taste
- 5 Mushrooms – (Button or freshly picked ceps)
- 20 or so leaves of Comfrey
- Pinch of Nutmeg
- Some oil for frying, (pref. Rapeseed oil)
- Olive oil or Butter to flavour
- Black pepper
- Pasta for two
Fry up the onions until soft then add garlic.
Add the mushrooms and once softened add the comfrey and cook until wilted.
Chuck in the remaining ingredients
Sift 200g of plain flour add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a knob of butter and half a pint of milk, stir and add the egg. You can leave the mixture to stand but this is not always necessary.
Coat one or two leaves with the batter
Fry until crispy, serve as a snack or a starter.
This is more or less a vegan version of the above recipe. Make a batter using garam flour, a pinch of coriander powder and/or fresh leaves, sparkling or still water and other spices of your preference. Mix until it has a thick but not solid consistency.
An excellent version of the traditional Indian dish Saag Aloo substituting the spinach for comfrey. It can also be made with nettles and or a mix of any seasonal wild leaves, (good King Henry etc).
Part boil some potatoes whilst toasting coriander, fennel, fenugreek and cumin seeds. Take the seeds from the dry pan and crush in pestle and mortar or on a chopping board with a meat cleaver or side of a big knife. Fry some onions, garlic, ginger and chilies. Add the part boiled potatoes and crushed seeds. Add some comfrey leaves and a little turmeric to colour. Cook until potatoes are soft and the comfrey has wilted.
Can be served with naan bread, yoghurt and comfrey bhajis.
Make a batter the same as in comfrey fritters above.
Chop two comfrey leaves finely and add to a pan of hot oil. Pour in the mixture so that it just covers the bottom of the pan. Fry each side until golden.
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