This is a game changer! Who would have thought that I have been walking past such an amazing resource and not realising its potential.
Broadleaf plantain is a very common weed, that loves disturbed soils, so grows almost anywhere. You won’t need to go far to find this plant and I am sure you would have come across it before. It is likely that at some point you would have absentmindedly played with this plant, ripping apart its ribbed leaves and popping off the seed heads. The broadleaf plantain has so many uses and health benefits, it is a wonder that it’s so readily trampled on and ignored.
Broadleaf plantain has low lying oval leaves that have very pronounced ribbing lengthways along the leaf. It then has a long green flower spike that can be up to 20cm high. The flower spike is made up of lots of little seeds that start off green, turning browner and drier with age.
There are other members of the plantain family, all of which have a variety of uses and slightly differing features. Take a look at my page on identifying plantain and its uses.
Plantain Egg Replacement
As stated above, Plantain has so many uses. The seeds and the leaves can be utilised for food and for home remedies. Check out my post here for more information.
I was so astounded when I discovered this use of plantain. The plantain seeds are used instead of the more commonly used flax or chia seeds. Flax and chia are not the cheapest seeds to buy in the supermarket, and perhaps, they won’t even be available in the general store that you visit. However, unless you don’t have a single bit of green space near you, plantain is bound to be close by and FREE!
How to collect
Head down to your local park, wasteland or grassy footpath and you are likely to come across some Broadleaf Plantain. You want to collect the seeds when they are just turning from green to brown. The seeds should be a little looser but not dry! When you rub the flower heads between your fingers they should come off the stalk quite easily.
I recommend snipping off the stalks and processing at home, as it can be a little time consuming. Using a pair of scissors, secateurs or a small pen knife snip off as many stalks as you want, and bring them home to process.
Making the replacement
First remove all the seeds from the stalks, by gently rubbing the flower heads between your fingers, collecting them in a bowl beneath. If they are a little fiddly to remove try drying first and then separating from the stalk.
The seeds now need drying slightly. Spread them out onto a baking tray to dry in a low oven for about 10 minutes to remove any moisture from the seeds. Or if you’re fancy you can use a dehydrator!
Once dried, the seeds need to be ground. This can be done in a food processor, coffee grinder or, in the good old traditional way, using a pestle and mortar. The finer the better, so really give it some elbow grease!
Once ground into a fine powder the seeds are ready to make the replacement. Using a 2:1 ratio of water:seeds, add together the seeds and hot water to a small bowl or ramekin and give it a little stir. For one egg you need approximately 1.5 tbsp of seeds.
After approximately 2 hours these seeds will have turned into a gel that is now ready to use as your egg substitute. Any recipes online that you find using flax or chia eggs can be replaced with this wonderous plantain egg.