White clover (Trifolium repens) is often viewed as an invasive and unwanted perennial weed when it is actually very useful as an ingredient in food and drinks, in natural medicine, and in pollination. Read on to learn how to forage white clover, how to preserve white clover, and how to use white clover in food & medicine.
I have been on a mission over the past few years to rely less on outside sources like Walmart for products that we use on a daily basis in our home and on our farm. Some of the ways we do this include:
2. Keeping bees for honey
3. Growing produce for eating fresh and preserving
4. Replacing paper towels with flour sack towels
5. Using food scraps for compost
6. Making all of our own cleaning supplies
The list of steps toward resourcefulness and self-reliance goes on and on.
My most recent attempt to save money and to provide for ourselves came in the form of foraging and preserving “weeds”, flowers, and grasses.
I have dried rose petals for bath & body products, dandelions for jelly and tea, purple dead nettle for tea and tinctures, and white clover for tea, soap, and jelly.
The easiest of these wild edibles to utilize, in my opinion, is clover, although they are all fairly simple to gather and use. If you are a beginner at using “weeds” and herbs, then learning how to preserve white clover is the place to start!
Benefits of White Clover
Clover is often seen as a nuisance in lawn care. Many people choose to kill it off with weed killers instead of letting these beneficial plants grow to be used in food, drinks, herbal medicines, and for pollination. This “weed” has some pretty neat benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Health Benefits of White Clover
According to Eat the Planet, “A white clover infusion can be used to treat fever, coughs, and colds. It’s also good for treating common cold symptoms, such as upset stomachs, nausea, and dizziness. White clover herbal tea can treat rheumatic aches and arthritis.”
Clover is also said to work as a blood purifier, as a treatment for skin conditions (tincture), and as an eye wash (tea).
Environmental Benefits of White Clover
Clover can be used as a ground cover to protect the soil and keep weeds out of lawns and gardens.
Patches of white clover attract many beneficial insects such as butterflies and honey bees which makes it an excellent plant for pollination! Clover also attracts parasitoid wasps that will kill aphids and other insects that can destroy your vegetable garden.
Clover is also great for nitrogen fixation. It pulls in atmospheric nitrogen and stores it in its roots. When it dies, this nitrogen is released back into the soil. This nitrogen fixation occurs in clover due to a symbiotic relationship between the clover and beneficial bacteria found in the soil.
Foraging and Preserving White Clover
We plant clover across our pastures to feed the cattle and the bees. Because we plant our clover via airplane, plenty of seeds make their way to our yard so we have wild and cultivated clover.
Foraging and preserving clover blossoms, no matter how they came to be, isn’t complicated. Follow these steps and you will add another notch to your imaginary homesteading belt.
*White clover leaves can be foraged and preserved similarly to the blossoms. Use the raw leaves in salads or dehydrate them for later use.
How to Forage White Clover
STEP 1: GATHER CLOVER BLOSSOMS
Choose clover in an area that hasn’t been sprayed and that isn’t used as a pet potty spot. Take a little basket, bag, or a gathering apron to carry your foraged clover flowers in.
You can pull the flower heads from the stems or snip the blossoms off with a pair of scissors. I prefer to snip the blossom off. If you forage with the stem attached, you will just have to remove it later.
Foraging is so much fun for children. They have a blast searching for the correct plants in the yard and gathering them into their baskets. Just give your kiddos a basket, show them which plant to look for, and let them go!
If your children pick buttercups along with the clover (mine picked a ton!), be sure to toss them because buttercups are toxic when ingested.
Also, be sure to take pictures because what is cuter than Supergirl and Luke Skywalker picking flowers/weeds/herbs together?
STEP 2: RINSE THE CLOVER
Give the clover a good rinse to remove any bugs that might be hanging around. You can rinse the blossoms in a strainer or in a bowl, just be gentle with them so they don’t rip apart.
STEP 3: DRY THE CLOVER
Place the rinsed clover blossoms on a flour sack towel or a dish towel and gently pat them dry.
How to Preserve White Clover
STEP 4: DEHYDRATE WHITE CLOVER BLOSSOMS
Once the clover blossoms are dry, you can start the preservation process. Dehydrating is the best way to preserve white clover blossoms.
You can dehydrate clover by:
- putting the blossoms into an electric dehydrator
- placing them on a baking rack in a sunny spot outside
- tying them in bundles to hang dry → you will need to leave the stems attached when gathering if you use this option.
- Or (my favorite) by using a solar oven.
Pour the rinsed and dried clover blossoms on top of the parchment paper, close the lid, open the reflectors, and let the oven do its work. Make sure that the Sun Oven has a shadow behind it at all times for best results.
STEP 5: STORE THE DEHYDRATED CLOVER
Dried white clover blossoms can be stored in zip lock bags or mason jars. Mason jars are more air tight than baggies so the clover will last longer if you choose this option.
How to Use White Clover
White Clover Recipes
Spread this clover jelly on toast for a yummy breakfast!
Drink this refreshing simple White Clover Tea with your preserved clover and sprigs of fresh mint as a twist to a summertime staple. Place your dried clover blossoms and mint into a piece of cheesecloth or a tea bag and let it steep in water. Follow this recipe for complete instructions.
Hot Clover Tea can be substituted for store bought herbal teas. Use the White Clover Iced Tea Recipe above, but don’t add the ice to the hot water 🙂
Enjoy your foraged clover and locally picked strawberries in this sweet treat!
Make your own “honey” using a mix of red and white clover blossoms.
Enjoy this creamy healing pudding as a snack or a light dessert. Just follow this simple recipe.
Did you know that you can use clover as a flour substitute? You can use this flour to make just about anything that you use wheat flour for.
Medicinal Uses for White Clover
You would be surprised at how many medicinal plants you can find in your backyard.
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