Since the move a week ago, we haven’t had much on our minds except unpacking and getting a good night of rest for more work the next day.
I hit a bit of a dead end (mentally) with unpacking and decided to get out to take my first shot at wild gathering – picking wild raspberry leaves and drying them for tea. We drink a lot of tea. In our vision of homesteading here, we’ve had on our minds that we could provide a fair amount of our own tea and other food through wild gathering. A goal of ours is to be self-sustaining in as many avenues as possible. We look to our land as a provider, considering the idea that we have a food forest right here. For tea, we have wild raspberry leaf, wild blueberry leaf, mint, clover, and Labrador tea right on our property.
One thing that drew us to White Sky Woods was that it seems to have been an old homestead. There was an apple orchard, so we wouldn’t have to start our own trees. Reportedly growing wild were lots of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (we visited and purchased in winter, so we had to believe the seller on this). We felt this property came with several ways that would immediately be providing food for us. All of those fruits turned out to be true, in greater abundance than we could have imagined!
So, this week the kids and I set out to gather wild raspberry leaves to dehydrate for use as tea.
From my reading, it is best to gather the leaves prior to blossoming or fruiting. We have many immature plants that currently do neither – growing wildly all over. So that’s what we picked from.
Once we filled up a gallon pail with leaves, we came back inside to dehydrate them. Here they are fresh. They shrink significantly upon drying.
My new range has a special low temperature dehydrate feature. How handy! We laid out the leaves on some baking sheets and put them in at 175 degrees F. In approximately 20 minutes they were completely dry. When I opened the oven an amazing aroma filled the house. I had to put another batch in, but I also decided to brew some fresh leaves to try. The fresh raspberry leaf tea passed the test – I’d mark it as “delicious” on my flavor scale. 🙂
For drying that we’d done in the past, we have used a more typical round dehydrator for fruits, leaves, and vegetables. It would sometimes take a day or more. I suspect this new range is WAY more efficient. I look forward to testing some other items!
When all was said and done I had a half gallon Ball jar filled with dried wild raspberry leaves. I was so excited about it that I did some more quick research to see about wild strawberry leaves since I saw many of those on our raspberry leaf hunt. Sure enough, they can be used for tea also. So out we went and collected a gallon pail of wild strawberry leaves to dry. The taste testing and drying results with the strawberry leaves was good too!
Such fun to be officially doing homestead things on the homestead we’ve been planning an building for over 8 years. I especially love that our beautiful property provided this with no pre-planning from us! The leaves will provide antioxidants and other health benefits for our family. Plus, hopefully eliminate our cost to buy tea!