The Plants We Eat: Stems


Stems are the part of a plant that provide support and a channel for fluids and nutrients. Many also store food. The defining part of a stem is the node which produces branches, flowers, or leaves.

When we think of stems, we usually think of the bark and woody part of a tree. Cinnamon is made of bark, but woody stems are not very tasty. Stems that we eat include potatoes and ginger, which are underground stems called tubers; asparagus, bamboo shoots, broccoli stems, kohlrabi, and sugar cane. We also eat leaf stems, such as celery, rhubarb, and Swiss chard. Onion and garlic bulbs are also modified stems.

The only resource I could find that focused on edible stems was not from an Extension website:


Pasta Primavera
Kohlrabi Saute
Asparagus with Gremolata Sauce

Note: We use an asparagus steamer; alternatively, put the stems in boiling water, then add the tips after the stems come to a boil. When water boils again, put on lid and let steam until ready to serve.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
Cheesy Broccoli Chips

This a way to reduce food waste, even if it’s not an Extension recipe.