Summer is starting to come to an end when roadsides and fields are covered with the beautiful yellow glow of the Goldenrod flower. The insects seem to love these flowers, but did you know they also offer health benefits for us. This is also the time when most people start noticing their allergies acting up and assume that all those beautiful flowers are to blame. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Goldenrod pollen is so sticky and heavy that it’s only spread by insects. For the most part, the culprit of late summer and fall allergies is the ragweed. While it may not be the cause of seasonal allergies, please keep in mind that anytime we put something into our bodies, natural or not, we run a chance of causing an allergic reaction. Today we’re going to talk about foraging and using goldenrod.
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Foraging and Using Goldenrod
Foraging for Goldenrod Flowers isn’t very hard to do. They stand out in open fields, the forest edge and even on the roadsides. Living in the country, we do have them growing in our yard, along the edge of the woods and around our pond. I like to harvest some and leave some for not only the bees and other insects, but also to give them a chance to reseed themselves for the next year.
When it comes to foraging goldenrod or any herbs for that matter I would suggest not using the plants that are found along the roadways or high traffic areas. I’m not sure if it’s the norm in all states, but the state we live in tends to spray along the roadways. This is not something that you want to have on your plants. Not only are the sprays bad, but just traffic alone can cause the plants to have a higher level of lead. The rule of thumb is if you can’t find the herb anywhere other than the roadside, to not gather any closer than 8 feet. However, I still won’t take that risk. If there’s an herb I need and can’t find it on our property, then I put it on the list to grow the following the year.
Goldenrod is one of those herbs that can be used for many different health issues. It’s wonderful for kidneys, urinary tract, allergies, skin and the cardiovascular system.
How to Use Goldenrod
There are a few different ways to use the goldenrod you just foraged for. A few of my favorite ways are: making a tincture, infusing it into oils, making a salve, infusing honey or enjoying it as a cup of tea.
2 cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon fresh goldenrod
1 Tablespoon fresh peppermint
Bring water to a boil and combine with the goldenrod and peppermint.
Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Then strain and serve.
*If using dried goldenrod and dried peppermint cut the amount in half to around 3 teaspoons.
Making a Tincture
When making a goldenrod tincture, the part of the plant you want is the fresh goldenrod flowers and some greenery.
Fill a clean, dry jar 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with your chopped goldenrod flowers and leaves. I usually simply hold the goldenrod plant over the top of the jar and use clean scissors to chop it the flowers and some leaves. That way they fall directly into the jar.
Next, pour a high proof alcohol over the herbs until they are completely covered. Vodka or brandy both work great.
Cover tightly with the lid and place jar in a dark cabinet and allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks. I prefer going 6-weeks on mine, but it’s just a personal preference.
During this time, be sure to give the jar a shake every 2-3 days and remember to keep an eye on the alcohol level. If at any point the alcohol gets below the goldenrod, you’ll want to add more.
Once your 4-6 weeks has come to an end, place a cheesecloth in a small mesh strainer.
Press mixture through the strainer using hands. Make sure to get all the liquid out.
Pour tincture in an amber bottle (found here), cap, label and store out of light to obtain freshness. Tinctures are good for at least 1-2 years.
Using Dry Herbs for Tincture
If using dried goldenrod instead of fresh, fill your jar about 1/4 to 1/2 with your herbs.
Once you’ve poured your high-proof alcohol over the dried herbs, be sure to check on them. Dry herbs may absorb the liquid and need additional added.
**When making any tincture, I like to label where I gathered it from, what alcohol was used and the date I started it. This goes on the jar that it macerates in.
Goldenrod Infused Honey
Goldenrod Infused Honey is such a wonderful addition to tea or to simply eat by the spoonful!
Take your freshly gathered goldenrod and cut the flowers off. I like adding a few leaves to the mix as well. Fill your jar loosely to the top (don’t pack the goldenrod tightly into the jar). Pour honey into the jar, and using the backside of a skewer, gently stir the flowers into the honey. This is to help get any air bubbles out.
Next, seal the jar up and put it in a sunny window for 4 weeks. Don’t open it up, but give it a shake daily to make sure the flowers are under the honey. Over time the honey will become runny as it starts to absorb the moisture from the flowers.
After 4 weeks, strain your honey. At this point, you can place it in the fridge to keep it from fermenting. The other option (which I prefer) is to take your freshly strained honey and place it in a double boiler. Bring it to a low simmer for about 1 -2 hours. Keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally. This process helps take some of the water back out of the honey and thicken it up.
There are a few different ways to dry your goldenrod. I prefer to simply take the flowers, tie them together with twin and hang to dry. Keep in mind that humidity plays a big part in the drying process. It can take a few days or a week or more for your flowers to dry completely. If you don’t have a great place to hang them, you can spread your flowers heads out and place them on a rack to cool. This is how I dry a lot of my herbs and flowers. I put the cooling rack (like what I would use for cookies) over a cookie sheet and place them there so they can air dry. Once again. Humidity will play a role in how long it takes your herbs to dry. One your herb is dry, label it and place it in a mason jar. Dried herbs generally will keep up to a year.
Goldenrod Infused Oil
Now that you have dried your goldenrod, you can infuse oils with it. I like to keep a variety of infused oils on hand so they’re ready when I need them. There are different ways you can infuse your oils. I’ve included step by step instructions here.
Goldenrod save is a traditional remedy for helping with aches and pains, and it’s pretty simple to make.
To make the salve:
4 ounces goldenrod infused oil
1/2 ounce beeswax (buy HERE)
Place the oil and beeswax in a double boiler or canning jar. If using a jar, set it into the pot with a few inches of water. This will form a makeshift double boiler.
Place pot over medium-low heat until the beeswax is melted.
Carefully pour your salve into clean, dry containers and allow to cool. This amount ended up making three of these 2 ounces tins.