Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wildcrafting Adventures: Sweet Birch

I decided I wanted to wildcraft some sweet birch for the birch oil that goes into some of my products this past weekend. So, Brad and I ventured into the woods with his parents and gathered a bunch Saturday. We had so much fun playing in the woods with his parents and their dogs!

Brad and I playing in the woods
Normally I purchase my herbs from a local farm in upstate New York, but I wanted to give wildcrafting a try. Wildcrafting is the process of gathering herbs from the wild to use in herbal preparations. I've done this a few times with goldenrod and dandelion, but never with a tree. I was super excited to get out there and harvest my own birch.

Sweet Birch (Betula Lenta) leaves
Sweet birch or Betula lenta, also known as black birch, contains wintergreen. A lovely smelling oil which contains methyl salicylate. This is similar to the main component of Asprin, and can also be found in topical pain relieving products such as Bengay. The oils from sweet birch are anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and especially useful for muscle and joint pain.

Brad's dad hard at work
Brad's dad was super helpful in identifying the proper trees, and cutting the branches down for me, and Brad carried the harvest back to the car. I was mostly along for the ride and to document our adventure.

Brad playing pack mule
One of my favorite things about this tree, is that whenever a branch is cut, you can smell the wintergreen. There's something about it that is comforting to me. This also makes the tree extremely easy to identify.

After harvesting, it's important to set the branches out so the leaves can wilt. This will prevent water getting into the oil, and causing the oil to spoil.

The full haul, laid out to wilt.
Sunday, I spent most of the day clipping leaves and shaving branches to make the oil. I prefer to use the double boiler method of oil infusion. It's much faster than other infusion methods, and it helps ensure there's no water in the oil.

I made tons of oil, and my house smells WONDERFUL! Seriously, I love how this stuff smells. I've also had my dehydrator running non-stop drying some leaves for future infusion. With all this oil, I will have plenty for weeks to come!

Have you ever gathered your own herbs? What's your favorite way to spend time in nature?

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

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