Spring is stealing into my yard, inch by inch. The rains have given me long shaggy grass (hey, I didn’t plant it, it came with the house!) and an abundant crop of,um, native plants. One of the most tenacious of these is Galium aparine aka cleavers. Also called goose grass or velcro plant, this stringy stuff is all over the place, happily grabbing at my ankles any time I try to walk through the yard. The only use I’ve found for it in the kitchen it to make a tea/tonic. I actually like it. It tastes kind of “green”, grassy but pleasant I think.
I’m amused and intrigued by the name given this plant. How many words can you think of offhand (yes, send them in, folks!) that, depending on context, have opposite meanings? My dictionary defines “cleave” as:
verb: to split or sever something especially along a natural line or grain
verb: to stick fast to, to become emotionally attached to
So, one can both cleave in two and cleave unto. Personally, I’m not at all attached to this stuff, but I do like the tea. I got the idea from my friend, the herbalist. If you decide to try this for yourself, be sure the plant matter is pesticide free and other wise clean, of course, and wash it well just to be even surer. Its this easy:
Take a good handful of young cleavers in early spring. Discard the roots and any damaged or brown bits, check well to make sure there are no bugs or other foreign matter attached, and put it in a teapot. Boil water, cool for a minute and pour over cleavers. Let steep for a few minutes, and enjoy.
I found a recipe that suggested cooking it like spinach, but I found it bitter and stringy-tough. I cooked them for quite a while, but cleavers never seemed to cook soft. I think I’ll stick to making tea as long as the plants stick around!