Calling this a recipe may be slightly over-complicating this incredibly simple spring delight….
Infusing young cleavers in water creates a glorious spring tonic, used historically to improve the immune system after a long and arduous Winter.
Cleavers have a rich history as a cleansing herb that helps eliminate toxins from the body, reduces inflammation, improves lymphatic flow and has a cooling effect. The plant is also said to have diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.
This cleaver spring tonic has a slightly herbal, sweet and refreshing taste – sometimes likened to the flavour of pea shoots / cucumber. The longer you infuse the cleavers in the water, the stronger the flavour.
Cleavers, also known as goosegrass or sticky weed, are a common plant found in many parts of the world. They grow in moist, shady areas such as hedgerows, forests, and along riverbanks – and grow abundantly! Cleavers can be harvested throughout the growing season, from early spring to late summer, with the leaves, stems, and seeds all edible. You can find out more about foraging for cleavers in our foraging guide.
If you have a juicer, cleavers also make a vibrant green highly nutritious juice – just don’t add them to your blender, as the plant is incredibly fibrous and could end up burning your blender motor (we’ve learnt the hard way!).
1 large handful of fresh young cleavers
2 litres of water
Optional: lemon or lime slices
Wash the cleaver leaves thoroughly under running water and pat dry. Add the cleaver leaves to a large jug or glass jar.
Pour cold water over the cleaver leaves. If desired, add a few slices of lemon for additional flavour.
Cover the jug or jar with a lid or cling-film and place in the refrigerator.
Let the cleaver-infused water chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight, to allow the flavours and nutrients to infuse into the water.
Once ready to drink, you can either strain out the cleaver leaves or leave in – it’s up to you.
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Always use young, vibrant fresh cleavers.
It’s important to avoid harvesting from areas that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
Be sure to wash the plant thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
While cleavers are generally considered safe for consumption, some people may have allergic reactions to the plant. Always try a small sample before consuming in quantity.
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