Blueberries are one of the most delicious and nutritious foods in our landscapes. Highbush and lowbush are found throughout New England by roadsides in Maine, around marsh lands here in my neck of the woods in Connecticut. Free for the taking, they are not as juicy as the cultivated varieties but just as tasty. They can easily be put into jams, pies, muffins etc. Euell Gibbons, in Stalking the Wild Asparagus, shares many recipes.
Blueberries are usually picked in mid to late summer. Once harvested by hand or eaten by wildlife, then, the leaves can be plucked, washed and dried. Blueberries are deciduous shrubs and will lose their leaves anyway. No harm comes to the plant by harvesting some leaves for tea making. I randomly pick leaves from several bushes looking for the greenest leaves.
In doing research for this article I learned that the leaves pack more antioxidants than the fruit! That’s a plus for so many reasons. Ongoing research is demonstrating blueberry leaves effect on lowering blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and various cancers. Gallic acid, one of the leaves chemical constituents, is an antioxidant which decreases pain, swelling associated with inflammation.
Usually 1 tsp of dried leaves is added to one cup of boiling water. With Blueberry leaves 2 tsp are okay. Let steep for 20 -30 minutes.
Caution: For more serious conditions it is best to check with a Naturopathic physician or practitioner who has experience in herbal medicine for proper dosage and management of diseases such as diabetes.
Vinegars packed with herbs are considered a tonic food, defined as one that strengthens and invigorates. Herbs soaked in vinegar are a great way to get some of the food benefits of plants. Some herbalists do not strain the vinegar as noted below. Instead they add the soaked herbs maybe a tablespoon or two onto salads or mixed in soups.
Due to its high antioxidant value, I added blueberry leaf into my tonic vinegar. (see recipe below) the other herbs in the formula are packed with nutrients, especially minerals. Trace amounts of various nutrients may work synergistically and research is ongoing.
Vinegar Tonic Recipe:
2 parts dulse
2 parts red raspberry leaves
2 parts blueberry leaves (wild preferred)
1 part dandelion leaves
1 part oatstraw
1 part alfalfa
1/2 part horsetail
1/2 part borage
Parts are determined by the size jar you choose. I recommend you use an 8 oz jar.
- Fill jar with herbs: 1 part = 1 tsp
- Fill jar with organic apple cider vinegar
- Cover and shake
- Place on sunny windowsill and shake every day or so
- Let sit for 4-6 weeks, strain, add honey if preferred to taste.
- Take 1 tbs per day
Vinegar’s sharpness can be cut with honey. A tablespoon a day can be added to apple juice, taken plain or added to salad dressing. I find this type of recipe nourishing and even energizing. But, don’t take my work for it. Make some of your own and share how you like it. I would enjoy hearing from you.