Coming across a small clump of raspberries growing by the edge of a wood I pick a couple. I do this because I want to know how different raspberries growing in the wild taste. To pick a juicy red berry I gently clasp it between two fingers and if it is ripe it easily parts from its stem. They taste similar to those bought in a supermarket but there is a definite thrill in finding and picking your own from the wild.
Considering the small number of berries available it feels right to leave the rest for the wildlife. In fact this will result in more because typically raspberries are spread by birds that eat the fruit.
If your new to foraging take at look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;
Finding more raspberries in the future would be fantastic because then I can bring some home too. Its best to do this using a container because the berries squash very easily. As a result of bringing the berries home so much more can be done with them besides eating them fresh. These options include making jam, raspberry vinegar, summer puddings, a sauce for ice cream, or adding them to smoothies.
As well as growing in woods wild raspberries also grow in hedgerows, heaths and hilly areas. Summer raspberries are available from July because they are usually the first soft fruit to ripen and are still around in early autumn.
Other Names for Raspberry
Raspberries are known by other names and these include;
- European Rasberry because its habitat includes Europe as well as North America, and they are a significant crop throughout Northern Europe.
- Framboise because this is the old French name for raspberry.
- Hindberry because this is the old name for the wild variety and has now been updated to raspberry.
- Wild Raspberry obviously named because they grow in the wild and they tend to be smaller than their cultivated counterparts.
Due to the lack of berries, foraging a small amount of leaves was the next best thing. The raspberry leaves are toothed, oval and a whitish colour underneath.
Before the berries arrive its easy to wonder if you are looking at raspberry or blackberry leaves. To tell them apart I take a look at their stems. Raspberry stems are woody and quite smooth apart from a few prickles. Whereas the blackberry has rough stems and much stronger and sharper prickles.
At home I wash the raspberry leaves and then dry them for storing. I do this by washing the leaves in a colander and leaving them on the kitchen drainer. Then I wait for the rest of the water to evaporate. Next I lay them onto kitchen roll for a week or two because this allows them to dry out. Furthermore I like to cover mine with more kitchen roll because this stops the leaves from getting dusty during the drying process.
Finally when dry I store my leaves in brown paper bags until I require them. I label the bags with name of herb, date of storing, expiry date, uses and dosages.
The expiry date I use is one year on from when I store the dry leaves. I also add how to make a tea/infusion from them.
Making a Raspberry Leaf Tea
I make a tea by doing the following;
- Bring a cup of bottled water to the boil.
- Place 12g of dried raspberry leaves into a cup and add the boiling water.
- Place a tea plate on top of the cup and leave the tea to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Strain and throw away the leaves
- Sweeten if desired. I use stevia drops or honey.
Children may drink a wineglassful of the tea and babies may drink teaspoon doses.
Alternatively use the leaves to make a tincture.
Making Raspberry Leaf Tincture
This is how I make a raspberry leaf tincture;
- Weigh the dry leaves using an electronic scale for accuracy.
- Finely cut or crush the raspberry leaves and place them in a glass jar which has an airtight lid.
- Pour over alcohol and stir. I use 37.5% cheap vodka and use 600ml to 1 oz of dry herb.
- Put on the lid and label the jar with name, date of preparation, and alcohol percentage and ratio.
- Store the jar in a cupboard away from direct sunlight for 3-6 weeks. This allows the herb to macerate, which means that it softens while soaking in the liquid.
- Shake the jar every few days.
- When ready the solution will have changed in colour. Strain it into a fresh jar using a conical funnel and cheesecloth.
- Discard the raspberry leaves.
- Screw on the lid and label with name, date of preparation, expiry date, alcohol content, uses and dosages. I put an expiry date of two years on my tinctures but they can last longer.
1-2 teaspoons in water.
- Tinctures are not suitable for those with alcohol intolerance or a history of alcoholism.
Uses for the Raspberry Leaf Tea and Tincture
Raspberry leaves may support the body in the following ways;
- Alleviate pain and heavy bleeding during menstruation.
- Ease diarrhoea and muscle cramps associated with menstruation.
- Helpful in childbirth and the last two months of pregnancy by toning the uterine muscles. In fact it has a reputation for painless and easy delivery in straightforward births.
- Promote milk production.
- Easing nausea particularly the sickness and nausea associated with pregnancy.
Additionally the tea can also support the body by;
- Using externally when cool as an eye wash for conjunctivitis and sore eyes.
- Use as a douche, which is a spray or shower of water, for vaginal discharge.
- Alleviating mouth ulcers, sore throats, gum problems and tonsillitis when using as a gargle or mouthwash.
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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