My son was really excited about the first flower blossoms in our yard. Violet! While harvesting the violet flowers, we chatted, listened to the birds, and nibbled on violet leaves and flowers. We noticed they are slightly slimy. This is because of their mucilage content-- making it great for sore and dry throats. We harvested enough flowers to infuse into honey. We will eat it straight from the jar, add to tea, and use on pancakes. Yummy!
Parts used: leaves and flowers
Harvesting Guidelines: Harvest the flowers and leaves in the spring and summer when still fresh and colorful. They are mild and pleasant tasting and do not get bitter as the year goes on like most wild greens. They do get tougher and may taste a little more like wintergreen, due the the accumulating methyl salicylate.
The roots are less safe medicinally and are a laxative.
Wildcrafted from our land
Melissa's favorite things about Violet:
-The flowers that you see in the springtime aren’t true flowers as they don’t produce seeds. Later in the year small nondescript flowers form underneath the leaves and fulfill the reproductive duties of a flower.
-The flowers are rich in vitamin C and the leaves are rich in chlorophyll, minerals, vitamin A and Vitamin C.
-Violet has gentle lymph-moving and detoxifying properties and can relieve swollen or congested lymph glands. A great plant to eat after the long, cold, and sluggish winter months.
-Violet leaf is a wonderful soother of inflamed skin and can help relieve rashes, hives & eczema. It can moisturize, tone and heal the skin.
-Violet’s most famous use is to dissolve cysts, lumps, and fibrotic tissue of the breast. Herbalist Matthew Wood recommends a fresh poultice of leaves and flowers for cancers of the lymphatic system, breasts, lungs, and skin. I’ve heard many stories of oil infused with fresh violets being used for dissolving lumps of the breast or simply as a preventive. (https://herbmentor.learningherbs.com/herb/violet/)
How we use Violets:
-We love to eat Violets fresh throughout the season and make goodies with the fresh and dried leaves and flowers. Some things that we made:
-Violet infused ACV
We will use this for a hair rinse, wasp stings, and sunburn relief.
-Violet infused honey
Great to eat by the spoonful, add to tea, and more!
-Dried violet leaves ground up and added to sea salt and dried garlic.
We use this on rice, chicken, fish, possibilities are endless!
Add to lettuce to enhance flavor, nutritional value, and beauty!
-Violet infused sunflower oil
Use as a massage and body oil
Herbal Beauty Products:
You can find Violet infused sunflower oil in the Herbal Baby body oil. The oil adds soothing and cooling properties.
For educational purposes only. The information has not been approved by the FDA and does not intend to diagnose or prescribe. Always consult with your health practitioner before taking any remedy.
For more information on harvesting guidelines and plant identification, please do your own research.
On our last couple of outdoor adventures, we found so many things to bring home and investigate; Sumac Berries, clam shells, moss, a very old & empty turtle shell, a Coot's foot, deer antlers, and an owl pellet. My favorite was the owl pellet.
An owl pellet is: Owls eat their food whole and since they don't have teeth, they can't chew their food. They use their strong and sharp beaks to rip their prey apart and then swallow large chunks whole. The owl slowly digests its meal by separating the softer materials (meat) from the harder material (bones). It then regurgitates the harder material along with indigestible items like feathers and fur in the form of a pellet.
(See what we found below)
Sumac Berries: These "berries" are really seeds covered with a thin coating of flavoring substance and hairs. Late Summer is the right time to harvest Sumac or as soon as they are ripe (dark purple in color) and before they have been rained on. This is when they will have the strongest flavor. The rain will wash off the sour flavor. Sumac berries make a great sour lemonade type drink or sumac-ade. This yummy drink is so easy to make: harvest 6-8 ripe "berry" clusters, taste them to make sure they have the sour flavor, put them in a pitcher and pour cold water over them. Let them sit in a cool place for awhile, taste drink to see if it is sour enough. When ready to drink, strain the drink through cheese cloth. This will remove all unwanted seeds and hairs. Some people add sugar, but we think it is great without. (I will remind you of this yummy drink when we actually do it later this season)
Just a note: sumac is related to cashews and mangoes, anyone allergic to those foods should avoid it and/or be very careful. Also, there is a poisonous Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix or Rhus vernix) but according to Wikipedia: "Poison sumac grows exclusively in very wet or flooded soils, usually in swampa and peat bogs, in the eastern United States and Canada."
Happy exploring and foraging!
I gave the kids a tweezers, magnifying glass, and pokers and had them open up the pellet to see what this owls last meal was and see what he left behind. They got a kick out of finding tiny bones and teeth and separating them from the fur. Based on our finds, we decided the owl had eaten a mouse.
That's right, stinging nettles are in season. So what do you do with stinging nettles you might ask? Good question. Well it just so happens that they are delicious and very healthy. Just go out in early spring and pick them when they are about 8 inches tall or less. Wear gloves because they can sting even when they're little. Take them home, chop them up and steam them for just a few minutes. This gets rid of the sting and turns them a brilliant green. Then what I like to do, and my kids too, is dip them in ranch dressing. And don't forget to drink the water from the pot. Nettle tea is also an excellent and very healthy beverage.
Before John and I got married our first joint purchase ever was a book called "Edible and Medicinal Plants of Minnesota and Wisconsin" by Mathew Alfs. This book has been well used for 7 years now and we will continue to use it. Here are a few things that Mathew Alfs has to say about the humble and under-rated stinging nettle:
"Nettles vitamins include: A, B1, B2, B5, C, D, E, K1, choline, and folic acid. Minerals include: iron, sodium, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, silica, and potassium. Nettle is also extremely high in protein as well as possessing one of the highest chlorophyll contents known in edible North American wild plants."
He goes on for about three pages but you get the idea.
Another great way to use nettles is to add them to basil pesto to stretch the basil and also give it more nutrients. Since nettles have a very mild and neutral flavor they don't substantially change the flavor of the pesto.
I also like to make my own oil infusions and tinctures with the wild plants we harvest. I also plan on drying them for tea.
Harvesting wild edible and medicinal plants and learning about all the amazing benefits they have is one of my favorite things to do. It doesn't get any more organic than harvesting from the wild! Check back soon to see what we find on our next foraging outing!!
This day we harvested about two pounds of nettles and ate them all that evening. We made a cream soup with dumplings and nettles and it was very good. Most of the nettles were eaten by the kids though. They love to dip them in ranch dressing.
Nettles have a mild and rich flavor if that makes any sense. I think they taste like a combination of asparagus and artichoke. There's no bitterness or wild taste. They also don't get slimy like spinach does when you cook it. They maintain a little bounce if you don't cook them too long.
Get out and pick some nettles!!
Wells, MN 56097
Disclaimer: All information included on this website is for educational purposes only.
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