It’s that time of year again to go outside for a nice winter walk and pick some refreshing American Wintergreen.
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(Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as a field guide)
This chilly day in the Northearstern Pennsylvania we wanted to go for a nice little walk before dinner.
It also has a large section in the field that is full of one of our favorite winter snacks…
They are an easy berry to harvest, and berry picking makes for an activity to keep the kids busy.
There isn’t much harvesting during the winter so it’s a nice little treat for the kids.
We also love it because it’s growing out in nature without us having to do anything!
Gotta love foraging off the land and teaching the kids edible plant identification.
I can not stress this enough, DO NOT eat anything that you’re not 110% sure is edible and always
check your Guide book.
We also have a rule in our house that even though my daughter knows her plants, she still must always check with us before she eats anything.
By th end of the summer, teaberries will have formed a red berry at the base of its leaves; the berry will stay on the plant right into early winter.
You’ll get the lovely minty taste of wintergreen when you bite into a berry.
To positively identify Teaberries crush the leaf and see if it produces a minty, wintergreen aroma, if it doesn’t then it’s not Teaberries.
Inside the berry there is kind of soft and minty white flesh. The leaves of the plant start out green and turn reddish purple.
Info about Teaberries:
Gaultheria procumbens, is also commonly called the eastern teaberry, the checkerberry, the boxberry, or the American wintergreen.
Teaberries love plenty of sun and acidic soil and they will provide plenty of wintery fresh berries!
The fruits of G. procumbens, the actual “teaberries”, are edible, with a taste of mildly sweet wintergreen similar to the flavors of the Mentha varieties of peppermint and spearmint even though G. procumbens is not a true mint.
The leaves and branches make a fine herbal tea, through normal drying and infusion process.
If you like their scent, the leaves need to be fermented for at least three days in order to yield significant amounts of their essential oil.
Native American Indian uses:
Teaberry leaves were widely used by the native North American Indians in the treatment of aches and pains.
American Indians also used the leaves to help breathing when hunting or doing manual labor.
The essential oil extracted from the leaves contains methyl salicylate, which is closely related to aspirin and is an effective anti-inflammatory.
Top 10 possible benefits:
- Menstrual cramps
- Nerve pain
- Muscle Pain
- Digestion aide
- Decrease Flatulence
- Help Open up Breathing Airways
- Freshen your breath!
Caution: Large quantities of the essential oil is toxic.