How to harvest raspberry leaves.
There are small moments tucked into the daily waves of movement and noise when I sneak away. A worn, thrift-store basket tucked up under my arm, I slink out the kitchen door – never bothering to close it and risk some little one hear the squeak of it shutting.
My basket and I walk intentionally and slowly out to the gardens, taking time to pick a ripe raspberry from the decorative bush in the potager garden or pull a stray weed from the gravel pathway. There's rarely an intention attached to the action of heading out with my basket, but rather, the purpose is simply to be. The cell phone is left lonely on the kitchen counter. The children are working through phonics books or playing on the dirt pile in the backyard. Stuart is often taking a few moments to read his latest book obsession. And I, well I simple tuck away into the gardens.
Itty bitty treasures often find their way into my small basket. This isn't the basket, you see, for large harvests of anything. The large harvests of carrots and beets are left for the rusty, pale blue metal cart I'm often seen scooting around the farm. The basket, however, is for other garden gifts entirely. The lone, light brown chicken egg that was layed in the geranium planter, the last of the dangling current tendrils dripping from the upright branches, the bright and perky pops of chamomile flowers that joyfully jet upwards towards the sky, a small handful of chives to garnish our lunch, or a few rose blossoms to plop into the copper vase that always sits on the butcher block in my kitchen.
… and it just so happens, yesterday, the basket and I found a wonderful harvest of raspberry leaves.
But why? Why would we want to harvest the leaves of the raspberry? Isn't the purpose of these sprawling fruiting canes just that? The ripe, completely irresistible fruit? Well, yes. Without question, raspberries have found their way into the top-spot of my little fruit loving heart. But while I wait in anticipation, and not so patiently, for the bright red berries to pop, I can still utilize our raspberry batch and harvest raspberry leaves instead.
Raspberry leaves support the female systems and cycles. Yes, that cycle. There's a lot more to it than that, but frankly, I read the information a few times over, find my mind wandering elsewhere, and then submit to the distraction instead. Like wandering through the garden with a basket in hand. So you can either practice blind faith (read: me telling you that raspberry leaves are good for your body) or you can Google something scientific (no judgment here). That bit is up to you.
But here's how to harvest raspberry leaves if you just so happen to find yourself in such a situation.
How To Harvest Raspberry Leaves
Pull off some of the raspberry leaves. But not all of them. The end.
I'm kidding. Well, sort of. The only other detail is to remember the leaves are best harvested in the late spring/early summer and also best harvested in the early morning when they are at their best and brightest.
I'm a bit particular about where I harvest raspberry leaves from because I like the bush to still look beautiful when I'm done. I take care to pull a few from here, then a few from there, then a few from over there. That way, I still leave with a full basket and the raspberry bush still looks full and healthy.
After the leaves are picked from the prickly and vigorous branches, they can be spread out in a single layer to dry. I use bamboo trays that allow air to circulate around. A warm place, like above the dryer, works perfectly. Once the leaves are dried, they can be stored in a glass container out of direct sunlight for winter consumption. I mix mine with chamomile blossoms and rose petals. Dreaaaaaamy!
What IS IT about herbs? They're so romantic. So charming. Like we're a part of a Jane Austen novel.
When it's tea time, the raspberry leaves can be crumbled and placed in a tea strainer or any sorts before being submerged in hot – but not boiling – water. A wee bit of honey never hurt either.
If I may, I'd like to encourage you to submit to the romantic, fragrant life on the farm this time of year. Savor the bundles of parsley and the first of the fragrant raspberries. Even the chicken yolks are extra orange and perky this time of year, while the greens and produce begin to pour from the garden beds. The sweetest little hummingbird is now visiting the black hollyhocks outside the bedroom window each morning and the robins dance between the garden stakes and rose bushes. It's positively intoxicating. Let it be.
Tasha Tutor once said “Nowadays, people are so jeezled up. If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, they might enjoy life more.”
Jeezled. I hear that. I feel that. So tea we must.