Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wild Edible: Red Clover

Wild Edible: Red Clover
Be sure to checkout other Wild Edible Posts: Queen Ann's Lace (LINK);  How to determine if a Plant is Edible (LINK), and How to Make Pine Needle Tea (LINK)

So my confession up from this post came to be because I saw someone post a recipe to Facebook a few months ago for Red Clover Lemonade that looked amazing and I had to try it. I then researched the plant for medicinal properties and other recipes and below is the result of that research! Be sure to at least scroll to the part about the Red Clover Lemonade (It's well worth making!)
Identification: For help with identification visit this site (LINK), I haven't found anything similar locally nor do I know of anything poisonous that closely resembles this plant. That said look into your back yard and you will most likely find this plant ready for the taking (that's where I found mine).

Red clover is a wild edible plant belonging to the legume family that is commonly used as food for livestock. Traditional Chinese medicine believed that it was a good tonic for colds, to purify the blood, and at one time they burned it as incense. Native Americans used it as a salve for burns, as well as for bronchial problems. Many cultures have traditionally used red clover to treat whooping cough, respiratory problems, psoriasis, eczema and even cancer. Warning: Not to be taken by women who are pregnant or by nursing mothers.  

Commonly Used Medicinally for the Following: Removal of toxins, Increase urine output/flow, expectorant (remove mucus from lungs), Digestive Aid (I found it to have the opposite effect), blood cleanser, treatment of various skin conditions (used in lotion, soaps and shampoos), Anti-inflammatory, Treatment of menopause (hormone regulation), relieves hot flashes, Anti-Cancer herbal treatment.

Edible Parts of the Plant: Although leaves can be tossed into a salad or used in a tea, the preferable part of this wild edible is the flower. Red clovers are the tastiest of all clovers although it is recommended not to eat too many of these as some people experience bloating. If you decide to eat the entire plant I highly recommend that you boil the whole plant before adding it to a salad mixture as it will make it a little more bearable to eat and less bitter (after you boil the plant you will be left with a rich green broth which you can also drink).

Red Clover Lemonade

Boil three red clover blossoms in clean water for 5-7 minutes or until the color is out of the blossoms, strain petals from water and add 1.25 Cups of lemon juice and 4 Tbsp honey. Stir and chill 1-2 hours. To serve pour over ice.
1) 4 clover blossoms in a pathfinder mug ready to be boiled (~20 oz of water added for the boiling process).
2) Approximately five minutes into boiling notice the color has left the clover, so you are now able to remove heat from the container.
3) Strain the clover out (using pathfinder cup lid) and pour the liquid into another cup. Notice the un appealing color of the water.... never fear we have a remedy coming soon!
4) Add four packets of lemon powder and 4 Tbsp. of honey (or 4 packets of honey) and stir well
5) You should end up with a lemonade like color for your beverage once you are done
6) Allow the beverage to sit/cool for 2-3 hours or overnight. If you prefer to impress your friends you can add 2-3 more red clover flowers at this point to soak and you will come out with a purple color beverage but I rather like my lemonade look so I stuck with it.

Red Clover Salad:  

As it says above eat in moderation, for me it has the opposite effect that it has on some people when concerning GI issues. I highly recommend mixing this with some plantains, dandelions, wild onions, and shaved Queen Ann's lace root (LINK) to your salad and top it with a little olive oil/vinegar/pepper/natures seasoning mix for a quick DIY salad dressing. 
 1) Place the roots, stems, and leaves into a container to boil
 2) Boil for ~5 minutes to soften the leaves and take away the bitter taste.

3) Allow the greens to cool (overnight or all day is what I tend to do), add in any other mixed greens and your DIY salad dressing and enjoy your randomly collected salad!

Red Clover Tea or Infusion:

If you are intending to use red clover for its beneficial properties then the best way will be to drink a daily tea or infusion. To make a tea, simply add a few fresh blossoms to a teacup or a handful to a teapot, pour on water that hasn’t reached boiling point yet and allow to steep for 5-10 min before enjoying. To make an infusion, which is a stronger more potent way of using herbs, add several handfuls of blossoms to a teapot. Pour on the hot water and steep over night. You can drink it throughout the following day.

Clover Syrup Recipe:

Ingredients: 4 cups of red clovers, 2.5 cups of water, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 3.5 cups organic cane sugar. 
Boil flowers for 5-10 minutes or until the color comes out of the flowers. Strain and measure 2.25 cups of liquid (add water if needed). Return to heat. Add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil then reduce heat to low. simmer until liquid becomes a syrup. Pour into a canning jar and store in refrigerator or root cellar for up to six months.


The red clover is one of the most versatile plants found in nature and can be used for food, beverages and medicine. While the plant doesn't taste all that great aside from the flower itself it is bearable when you add in other greens and make a quick DIY salad dressing. Lemonade is amazing! Try it you will not regret it for a second. As far as medicinal purposes WebMD has mixed reviews and I honestly haven't tried it for any ailment so I will leave that in the as as still "experimental". I hope you enjoyed this quick review of one of my favorite wild edibles and I will be back with more content on Monday!

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  1. I can understand why they say not to eat too much. We had fields of red clover on my Uncle's farm and on occasion the cows would break through the fence to get into it. We had to run them out immediately or they would eat so much they would get colic and die. They would bloat terribly. If a cow was down you would run up and kick him in the belly and it would let out a HUGE fart, then get up and run, releasing gas as it went. LOL Kind of funny, but if you didn't catch them quick it could kill them.

  2. We put it in our homemade tea blends, if we can get the flowers before the goats to. My daughter gets a kick out of flowers in her tea.

  3. i eat them raw every time i see them

  4. Thanks for sharing!