garden · healing · wild foods

Time to Light the Flame

Here on the East Coast of North America, the summer solstice and first summer full moon have just come to pass. We seem to be getting all the precipitation that should be due on the West coast! 

plantain plantain
lemon balm
Melissa officinalis

  

All this to say that our Leaf season is coming to a close, opening the way to our Summer Flower season. But! It isn’t too late to take advantage of the delicious leaves available to us as the plant begins to send its energy up up up into flowers, and eventually fruits and seeds. 

(If you’re unsure of what I mean when I say “Leaf season”, check out the Anthroposophical Society and Biodynamic gardening. Biodynamics is a precise method of planning, feeding, and cultivation but can be broken down into parts.)

As you can see – many of our flowers are ‘on the verge’ 

gravel root
Eupatorium purpureum

 

 

sjw
Hypericum perforatum

 

 

calendula
Calendula officinalis

 

 

yarrow
Achillea millefolium

 

At this point in the plant’s life-cycle, the energy is ready to burst open that flower and get ready for some real action! The bees, wasps, beetles, worms, butterflies, and other insects are waiting patiently for the real fun to begin…

This part of the season, the ‘in-between’, it is easy to fall in between the cracks of daily life and fall victim to what I call a Brutal Summer Cold. The best and tastiest way to overcome the drab congestion of minor infections is with taking your foot off the accelerator, lots of naps, drinking plenty of water, and a simple plantain syrup.

Plantain- Plantago major is an introduced species here in NA but is so pervasive that it has become a true pioneer plant. It has expectorant, demulcent, mucilaginous, and bacteriostatic properties and is allied with the lungs and general wound healing. It is also confusing as it shares the same name with the delicious, subtropical fruit. I like to chew on the young leaves of the  plantain in the morning, but if you’re looking for something that will really rattle your cage, try this:

  

  • Gather some fresh, shiny, good looking plantain leaves. The quantity will depend on what you can find. Make sure the leaves are clean (and wash them anyway), free of too many imperfections, damage, and completely free of pesticides, chemicals, etc. Plantain is a “””weed””” and is often subject to major abuse so be sure you know your source well. 
  • In a blender or food processor, place your freshly wash plantain leaves (they don’t have to be dried off) and a dash of water. Pulse to start breaking down plant material, making sure to scrape down the side of the vessel. Plantain is stringy so it may need to convincing. 
  • As the leaves are breaking down evenly, slowly add more water to the running blender until the mixture becomes dark and juice-y. Keeping running until the plantain leaves are well and evenly broken down,
  • Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then strain with either a cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag into a bowl or better yet a large measuring cup. I use a 6 cup Pyrex measuring cup.
  • Measure the final resulting liquid. Whatever the volume of your juice, you’re then going to add half the volume in unpasteurized, preferably local honey. Eg: my plantain juice measures 2 cups after I’ve strained it, that means I will need 1 cup of honey.
  • Measure out your honey and add it to the juice. I find a soft spatula works best to dissolve the honey into the juice. Heat helps incorporate the sugars into the water but also destroys many of the vitamins and nutrients of the plantain and the honey. 
  • Once the mixture is well blended, add in 1 ounce per cup of final juice each of brandy, apple cider vinegar, and vegetable glycerine. If you have any bitters, tinctures that you like they can be added now. 
  • Pour into a jar and refrigerate for up to a week. To last you throughout the year, fill an icecube tray with the juice and once frozen, place them in a well labeled ziploc bag.
  • The juice can be take straight, usually a 1/4 cup serving will suffice, 3 times a day or as needed. The juice is also a lovely addition to teas, fermented sodas, or other fresh fruit and vegetable juices
  • Cheers to the coming sun!

  

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