cleaver coffee

Cleavers (Galium aparine) belongs to the same family as coffee. The leaves and stems can also be cooked as a leaf vegetable – usually early in the spring before it toughens up and the burrs appear.

However when it has fruited and the little burrs ripen it makes a very passable drink – half way between a coffee and a herbal tea. Apple scented and delicious.

Simply pick the burrs – ideally when they are ripe or turning reddy brown, You can winnow the hooked spines off under a tea cloth (or in a pillow case) if you like, dry them in oven, then roast in oven until dark brown. Grind and make into coffee.

click to enlarge image

The roots of the cleaver (as with other members of the bedstraw family) can be used to make a permanent red dye.

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