Playing in the Sweet Clover
While many of the herbal bloggers are busy on planet Dandelion, I’ve been off in a different direction. While I adore Dandelions, they’re not very common here, and my attention generally remains on what’s abundant and available. To this end, I’ve been laying on the river banks with my face buried in this season’s most prolific wild green, Sweet Clover!
Chances are, wherever you live (in N. America) there’s some Sweet Clover (Melilotus spp.) flourishing nearby, and if not, it’s certainly easy to grow in your garden. This plant must have a million uses, but my current favorite one is as food. Before flowering, it has a sweet rich vanilla tastes with a kind of sharp afterbite. After flowering, it’s somewhat more bitter but still fantastic tasting.
Every year at the Wild Women Gathering we make pot after huge pot of aromatic Sweet Clover brew. It’s lovely with honey, but also amazingly pleasant just plain, either steaming hot or chilled. We also chop up the leaves and add them to salads, sandwiches. stuffed grape leaves and even soups. They have a very distinctive flavor so you don’t need alot. Another favorite is Sweet Clover pesto, usually made with half Nettle and half Sweet Clover for an energy charged spoonful of vibrant wild taste.
I’m in the process of creating some Sweet Clover honey wine as well and am also working on lacto-fermented Yarrow/Sweet Clover Ale. And don’t forget plain ol’ Sweet Clover honey too! For wines and other fermented preparations, I tend to use freshly dried plant because it brings out the vanilla flavor in an amazing way and also because it minimizes the unpleasant blood thinning effects that rotting Sweet Clover can have upon the body. This is probably an unnecessary caution, but one I’ve made a habit of nonetheless when it comes to fermented Sweet Clover products. If anyone has made a fresh Sweet Clover wine or ale, I’d love to hear about it.
Rhiannon’s favorite way to eat Sweet Clover is to graze on it, face first while crawling around on all fours down by the river and pretending to be an elk. Sometimes she even gets grownups to play too
A medicinal profile of this lovely plant is coming soon too!
PS: Don’t get confused, this isn’t Red Clover or White Clover of the Trifolium clan, this is Melilotus, and either the yellow or white will work.