Sunday, 18 March 2012

A harvest of spring herbs

An apparently rather bleak morning in March, but hiding behind its damp and decidedly grey cloak were a panoply of spring herbs - nature providing all that we need to shake of the winter and feel the rising energy of spring. Today I've been walking and picking and making remedies with a good friend. There's nothing quite so therapeutic (well, apart from eating an drinking them of course!).

Top of our foraging list were nettles and we brought back fresh young nettle tops aplenty:

We also harvested cleavers (Galium aparine), burdock (Arctium spp.) leaf and root, common sorrel (Rumex Acetosa), and some young dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaf and root.

Everything was very young and fresh, greener than green. With a steaming cup of nettle tea inside of us to warm up we made several recipes. The first was the 'Garden Weed Tincture' from 'Hedgerow Medicine' (Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal) where it is described as 'a whole-body tonic to improve your health generally'. Sounds good to me! It includes (almost) the full medley of our pickings: cleavers, dandelion leaves and root, nettle tops, and burdock roots. It's now tucked away in a dark cupboard for a month while the vodka works its magic (with the help of a daily shake). The colours of the leaves and chopped roots are so vibrant:

Second, was a Nettle and Apricot Iron tonic which I've written about before. I've been making the Iron tonic through the winter with dried nettle, but it was great to get a batch going with lovely fresh nettle. I've been using the tonic on an almost daily basis recently to help with iron deficiency anaemia. I no longer need it so regularly now but it's a herbal essential for my medicine shelf that I will continue to take from time-to-time.

Thirdly, we made a straightforward Nettle Vinegar for the store cupboard. And the full line up:

By the time we'd picked and washed and bottled up all these herbs we were pretty hungry. So for lunch I made Chinese spicy buckwheat noodles with fresh... yes you guessed it English spring herbs. Delicious!


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5 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures! I want to go out right now and pick some herbs! :)

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  2. Good to see you posting again - hope everything has been ok.

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  3. Thanks for your comment Angela - happy picking!

    Hello Sarah, good to be herbing again. :) Thanks for dropping by. Elizabeth

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  4. Great early spring foraging! What do you do with the nettle vinegar? Use it for cooking or medicinally?

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  5. Hi Amanda, I mostly just use it in salad dressings, but I believe that medicinally it can be used for it's high calcium content in particular. It can be taken in a mug of hot water with honey added to taste.

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