Care should be taken when picking these as they are in the dangerous umbellifer family, which contains the deadly Hemlock Water-dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) and Hemlock (Conium maculatum). Having said this, it would take an almighty lack of care and judgement to get the Hemlocks confused with Alexanders - if there is anything you could mistake it for it would be Ground-elder (Aegopodium podagraria) or Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris), both of which are edible anyway. This plant is fairly easy to distinguish from the two aforementioned edible species, but do check your guidebooks carefully before consuming.
|Vibrant green colour of the young shoots|
|Pick off the leaves, leaving just the stems|
- Alexanders stems
- Salt / pepper
- Lemon juice
Once you've stripped all the leaves off the stems, cut in to bite-sized pieces and put in a steaming basket or sieve suspended above a pan of boiling water. Steam for 5-10 minutes depending on how crunchy / fragrant you like them, mix in a small knob of butter, season with salt and pepper and squeeze over a bit of lemon juice, though not too much, as you don't want to overpower the flavour of the Alexanders.
A small bowl of steamed Alexanders makes for great great finger food and would be lovely alongside a piece of fish as a main, they have a sweet yet fragrant taste that is unlike anything I've had before - very pleasant indeed. I steamed mine for ten minutes, but next time I think I'll reduce that down to 6/7 minutes to retain more of the unique, mildly-spiced Alexanders flavour.