Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Urban Herbs #4 - Blackberry Leaf

My Urban Herbs series is monthly chronicle of my continued quest to taste an infusion of every nontoxic plant I can find growing around my house. In this month's installment I've selected blackberry leaves.

These leaves were picked from a particularly wild corner of my backyard. I took care to select smaller, more tender leaves and not to poke myself on the wicked thorns. It is very important with all urban foraging to be sure you're harvesting in areas without any pollution. Lucky for me, Seattle is filled with such places.

Blackberry bushes can be found all over the northwest and in the late summer I certainly eat my fair share of their ripe sweet berries. I've never tried infusing blackberry leaves before but I've recently learned that many people do, and that certain medicinal effects are attributed to the beverage. Some sources suggest the infusion is a good source of vitamins C and E, good for fighting colds and flu and for relieving sore throats.

I chopped up eleven fresh leaves of varying size and steeped them for 10 minutes in ~6 ounce of boiling hot water.

The resulting brew was light yellow and had a delicate grassy, citrus aroma. The flavor of the infusion was similar. It yielded wild weed and grass-like notes with soft peaks of citrus peel and tart blackberry flavors. It was a little tannic but not unpleasant. I think if I were to drink this herb again I would try picking more leaves, drying them, crumbling them up and make it a bit stronger.

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