Archive | November, 2013

Gaultheria teas

17 Nov

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Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) is a very common plant under Jack Pine trees on dry sandy soil in my neck of the woods. The red berries are starting to get large and will be a nice cold weather treat from now until May any time they are visible as they may possibly be snow covered for a few weeks to 4 months, time will tell.

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Today I’m gathering a few berries but mostly the plant leaves for tea. Some folks prefer the red leaves which seem to grow in the drier sunnier areas.

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I’m also collecting some green Teaberry leaves from a shadier area to compare the 2 different colored leaves flavour.

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Ah, a wet spot in the Jack pines and here we see some green Teaberry leaves and below them is Moxie-plum (Gaultheria hispidula) which has tasty white berries during the summer and its wintergreen leaves may even make a better tea than teaberries. So I’m going to do some Gaultheria tea testing in the next few days.

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Moxie-plum (Gaultheria hispidula) usually grows in wet areas on or near old tree stumps and is rare compared to Teaberry in my area.DSC06530

Here we see a larger mature stem with many small round leaves this one is well over a foot long.

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I found a couple tea testers here at the house who will sample both the red and green Teaberry teas and also the Moxie-plum leaf tea in coming days as I must first ferment the leaves for a day or 2 before the tea tasting begins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk11Acjofu8

Gaultheria products are rarely made today though they were used many years ago. I suspect the Teaberry gum in the video was originally made with Teaberries in the early 1900s but by the time of the 1960’s video probably was made with more easily obtained ingredients, nevertheless the videos is kinda fun and the song was a popular instrumental when I was a lad. I will post the results of our (in-house tea tasting event) as an update in this post in a few days.

UPDATE Nov 19/2013

Both Gaultheria procumbens and Gaultheria hispidula leaves when fermented for 2 days make incredibly great teas. Gaultheria hispidula won the (in-house tea tasting event) by 2 votes to 1 as it was slightly more smooth though both were truly flavourful.

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Since Gaultheria procumbens is one of our most common forest plants I will choose it as the one I gather and ferment  frequently this winter. If you live where this plant is common, enjoy fresh air and walking in the woods and also have space for a few small mason jars to ferment for a day or 2, then you clearly owe this small investment of timely pleasure to yourself. This is one tasty medicinal tea. cheers

Evening Primrose

11 Nov

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Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) still remains a common plant here in eastern Canada and I suspect the folks who lived here thousands of years ago were very fond of this health plant.

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This is usually the time of year I gather this plant though I do enjoy the yellow flowers in salads during the summer. The whole plant is edible and my favorite part for eating are the boiled roots which become very soft textured with a pleasant flavour and a peppery aftertaste.

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Evening Primrose oil which is a well known herbal product is made from Evening Primrose seeds either grown commercially or gathered from the wild, so here we are looking at a stem with the 4 chambered seedpods.

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Here I’ve opened a couple of chambers to show you the brown seeds which can be used as a peppery condiment.

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These still green basal leaves are what you’re looking for if you’re interested  in the large roots which can be harvested from these first year plants as long as the ground isn’t frozen and the 2nd year stems haven’t begun to grow. All the above photos were taken around my shed, this plant grows in a variety of areas including roadsides, railway banks, gravelly soils along brooks, drier areas near salt marshes and disturbed soils.

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I usually freeze the leaves for winter use but this year I’ll dry some to use as a pepper replacement. This plant was taken to Europe in the 1700s and was given the name the King’s cure-all, so it must of proven to be a beneficial plant in its new homelands.

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Above are a couple photos of Evening Primrose in flower taken this summer. ciao