Foraging at the end of April I find early bramble leaves and they look a fantastic green in colour. To pick them I put on a pair of gardening gloves because they are prickly and sharp to the touch. Then I cut some of the leaves stalks with a pair of secateurs and place them into a bag.
The best time to pick the blackberry leaves is when they are fresh in the spring and summer. In April they are lovely and tender.
To see how I prepare for foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post.
The blackberry / bramble leaves are said to have astringent properties which means that they shrink or constrict body tissue. Due to this the leaves can be chewed to ease bleeding gums.
Preparing the Bramble Leaves
Holding the cut stalks on their very ends is important because this minimises pricking myself. Then snipping each leaf off the stalks with a pair of scissors I place them into a colander. I throw the prickly stalks away.
Thoroughly washing the leaves under the sink tap, I then leave the colander on the draining board to drain.
Once this is done I divide the leaves into two piles;
- Those that I wish to keep fresh and store in the fridge for a while.
- Those which I will dry for future use.
Drying Bramble Leaves
Placing the drained and washed leaves onto kitchen paper I leave them until they are fully dried and brittle. I always cover drying herbs with further kitchen paper to avoid them being covered in dust during the drying process.
I have asked my husband to make me a herb drier because he is very handy with DIY. In the meantime this process works fine for me.
After about a week the leaves are brittle and ready. I crumble them into a brown paper bag and store them away until needed. I use inexpensive brown paper grocery bags like these;
Labelling the bag I add the date I store them because dried herbs are best used within 12 months. I also add the dried herbs possible uses and dosages on another label.
Storing the dried leaves in an airtight container is another option. If using this option they need to be put inside a cupboard away from direct sunlight.
My existing dried leaves came from foraging for blackberries and their leaves last August. I make blackberry oxymel with the blackberries using honey and vinegar. Drinking a dessertspoonful of the oxymel in a cup of boiling water has helped to stave off a few colds during the winter months.
Look out and subscribe for future posts so that I can share what I do with the blackberries later in the year.
Making Bramble Leaf Tea
I make bramble leaf tea with fresh or dried herb. The general rule is to use twice as much fresh herb as dried herb to make an infusion. Infusing extracts the plants flavour and chemical compounds into the water.
I make a mug of tea using fresh herb by;
- Bringing 300ml of water to the boil. Personally I prefer bottled water for herbal preparations and cooking. Having digestion problems I avoid anything which may irritate my condition. For that reason I avoid the aluminium found in tap water as much as possible. This is just my personal choice due to my health condition.
- Adding 25g fresh herb (12.5g dried herb) to the water. I use electronic scales to weigh the blackberry leaves because this gives an accurate reading.
- Covering the mug with a plate I infuse for 15 minutes.
- Straining away the herb I drink as often as required.
When the tea is ready it has a slight green tinge.
Cupping the mug between both hands I inhale deeply and notice a slight smell of blackberries. Tasting the tea I also notice a slightly sweet blackberry taste.
I like to sweeten my herbal teas further with stevia or honey.
Some of the suggestions where the tea may help the body to support itself are for;
- Flu and fevers
- General Health
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore throats and throat irritation
- Topically as a wash for wounds
Making a Bramble Mouthwash
I also make a mouthwash with the fresh bramble leaves because it is claimed to help fasten loose teeth. Having gingival recession this sounded worth a try.
Gingival recession is also known as receding gums where the roots of the teeth are exposed and can cause very sensitive teeth. I worry about tooth loss because of a couple of wonky and wobbly front teeth.
To make the blackberry leaf mouthwash I make double strength tea by;
- Adding 35g of fresh leaves (17.5g dried herb) to 200ml of boiling water.
- Covering the mixture with a plate to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Straining the liquid into a plastic cup or bottle.
- Leaving the cup on the side to cool.
- Covering the cup with clingfilm.
- Placing the cup in the fridge until required.
I only make 200ml because teas and infusions are recommended to be used within 24 hours. This is because microbes multiply in water quickly. Microbes are bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and protozoa.
Therefore I use the mouthwash the evening it has been made, then the following morning and evening. Keeping it in the fridge between each use.
Some of the suggestions for the mouthwash to support the body are with regards to;
- Fastening loose teeth
- Mouth ulcers
- Spongy, bleeding or inflamed gums
- Tongue sores
Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.
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