It’s the season for goldenrod! Actually, every season is the season for goldenrod. This versatile plant can be harvested at any time of year, and every portion of the plant can be consumed. As a tea or tincture, in a soup, done in an egg topping, used in a batter or mixed with French toast ingredients, goldenrod imparts a modifying flavour to foods, and is excellent in combination with vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and even turnips or rutabagas. It stores well, and can be used dried, powdered, frozen, pickled or fresh. In short, goldenrod is a wonderful survival food as well as nutritious meal component.
Winter is particularly harsh on most plants, and harvesting, particularly in the northern parts of North America, of any plant is challenging. However, because of its upright growing habit and height (it grows twenty-four to thirty inches tall), its head sticks out of most prairie and wasteland snow cover. That is where it grows best: in marginal, gravelly and weed-ridden soils.
Throughout winter, late-blooming goldenrod flowers, goldenrod seed and even goldenrod leaves (albeit browned) are available. All three can be picked on demand and used to make an infusion (like a tea), or boiled in a variety of soups. The best soups are vegetable soups and other thin soups, but the taste of cream soups is greatly enhanced with a handful of goldenrod flowers or pulverized seeds.
In the spring, as soon as the frost is out of the ground (or in the early fall, after the nutrition and liquids of the plant have partially retreated), harvest the roots. Wash them thoroughly, dry them and grind them coarsely for use in soups and batter.
In the spring and summer, pick up to one third of the leaves of each plant for use in salads, or, again, use in soups. Leaves and flowers can be air-dried and stored almost indefinitely, or the leaves and flowers may be frozen with a little water for use later.
The stalks, too, can be used, although they tend to be tough. With care, they can be peeled, or harvested when young. By dipping them in a little honey or sugar/water mix and then baking in the oven at 225F for up to forty-five minutes, you can make a crispy sweet snack that can be broken into smaller pieces and carried with you on hikes, for quick nourishment.
Goldenrod has been used to treat a variety of health concerns, from eczema, arthritis and rheumatism to kidney stones, haemorrhoids and urinary tract infections. Goldenrod acts as a great digestive aid (like peppermint), is an aid to treat colds and flu and even to relieve fatigue. It relieves the itch of insect bites and to treat cuts, athlete’s foot and wounds. It is a bitter astringent and relaxant herb that reduces inflammation, stimulates the liver and the kidneys and is used as a urinary antiseptic and also has an expectorant, healing and anti-fungal effect. Internally, goldenrod is used to treat tuberculosis, diabetes, liver enlargement and gout. It acts as a diuretic, and helps to lower blood pressure.
This is another versatile healing and edible herb with a native history, but is not a North American plant by origin. Although not a North American plant, it spread so quickly upon its arrival in the 16th century, and interbred so well with local plants, that it is found across almost all of North America.
The following Golden Rose Honey recipe is a great tasting gout treatment:
1 ½ oz. rose hips
¼ oz ground ginger
¾ oz. nettle leaves
¾ oz. goldenrod leaves
¾ oz. horsetail leaves
2 ½ oz. honey
Blend all ingredients in a blender, and serve on whole wheat bread. It has a somewhat perfumey taste and a scent like new hay.
Try this Eggs Goldenrod recipe as an alternative to eggs Benedict:
2 cups Macaroni
1 can asparagus soup
¾ c milk
¾ c grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp goldenrod leaves or flowers
1 tbsp parsley leaves, fresh
2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Mix the ingredients together and serve over English muffins
Consider adding goldenrod seed, dried flowers or leaves (crushed or ground) to batter when making French toast, or mix into one cup of beer and add to vegetable soups for a little extra zing.
Goldenrod offers health benefit, a unique culinary taste and a nutritional value not found in many vegetables, yet it is abundant across North America and free for the harvesting. In short, it is a wonder food!
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