Rosebay willow herb Chamaenerion angustifolium
This plant loves to thrive on newly turned soil and is often found in large patches. One of it’s other common names is fireweed which is partly due to it’s stalk and leaves turning a reddish colour after flowering but is also attributed to the fact it was one of the first plants to return to an area after an the area is burned.
This often overlooked but delicious plant has many edible parts. The leaves are used as a nutritious tea in parts of Russia The leaves are used when the flowers are young and before full flowering as the leaves get more bitter after the plant fully flowers. You strip off the leaves from the stem and roll the leaves between your fingers to crush them slightly. You allow them to ferment for about three days and then dry them out and then use as a herb tea. The plant contains vitamin C, beta carotenes, flavonoids and protein. It also thought to help with balancing gut flora due to it’s slight bitterness.
The younger pre flowering stems can be eaten and taste a bit like asparagus. You strip the stems of their outer coating and cook the inner part as you would asparagus. I like it pan fried cooked in olive oil and liberal sprinkling of salt.
The flowers can be eaten and in Canada they are made into a divine and delicious floral jelly. They can also be added to salads and cocktails as a floral garnish.
Rosebay willow herb flower jelly
Rosebay willow herb flowers – about half a carrier bag.
Water – 500ml or enough to cover the flowers in the pan
Lemon juice – two lemons
Butter or oil – 1 teaspoon
Pectin powder – 3 tablespoons
Sugar – 150g or more if needed
Spread the flowers out for a few hours to allow the insects to move on to another home
First make a strong overnight infusion
Then in a clean saucepan put the flowers in and pour in enough water to cover them
Bring to the boil for about 5 minutes
Allow to cool and leave it covered overnight to fully infuse
The next day strain the strong infusion and remove all the flowers
Then add the other ingredients
In a clean pan add the rosebay willow herb juice, the lemon juice, butter or oil and the pectin powder. Bring to a hard boil for one minute and then add the sugar and bring to the boil for a one minute again.
Test to see if it will set
Do the set test with a saucer that has been in the freezer for 5 minutes. Drop a small amount onto the chilled saucer and allow to set for 30 seconds then push your finger through it. If it wrinkles then the jelly is set. If it doesn’t add more sugar and bring to the boil for another minute, remove from the heat and redo the wrinkle test with a rechilled saucer. Repeat if necessary.
Then pour in cleaned jars, while still warm and allow to set and cool in the jars and then place the lids on the jars and label. Enjoy!
The root has the most medicinal benefits of this plant and has been used to help with an enlarged prostate.
Do not use plants medicinally without discussing it with your GP or Medical herbalist first.
You cannot dig up a plant for it’s roots without landowners permission. Fine if it’s in your garden or land.
Do not eat or nibble on a plant unless you are 110% certain of it’s identification.
Do not take more than a third of patch of a plant so that others in your community can enjoy it and the wildlife that feeds on that plant can continue to do so.
This vinegar is wonderful added to a salad dressing. It’s very good with a crisp lettuce based salad but experiment and see what you enjoy.
Rosebay willow herb vinegar
Simply place rosebay willow flowers into apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. Filling about half the bottle with flowers.
Allow to steep for four weeks and then strain out the flowers.
You now have a delicious floral vinegar to add to your salad dressings or even over chips!
There has been a flurry of folk making dandelion honey this year, which is fantastic, it is worth knowing that you can make a vegan flower based honey from other flowers. Dandelion and red clover lend themselves well to a honey as they contain so much pollen.
Rosebay willow herb and red clover honey
1 pint full of red clover flowers
1 pint of rosebay willow herb flowers
Add the sugar and water together in a clean pan and bring to a rolling boil for about 10 minutes and then add all the flowers and allow to steep overnight.
The next morning strain the mixture and pour into sterilised jars and label.
Rosebay willow herb shoots pickle
Rosebay willow shoots, enough to fill the jars you have.
Gather young shoots before they flower and strip the outer bark off and rinse the inner shoot.
250ml vinegar – apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
In a clean pan add the vinegar, water, sugar, spices(if using) and salt. Bring slowly to the boil allowing for the sugar and salt to dissolve. Remove from the heat, strain(if using spices) and allow to cool slightly.
In sterilised jars have the cleaned shoots waiting and pour over the cooled vinegar pickling mixture.
Allow to fully cool and then place the lids on the jars and label. Place in the fridge for about a week to allow the flavours to infuse. Enjoy with a good strong cheese, cows milk, coconut or nut based!