White clover is very common in yards, woodlots, fields, and cleared areas all around you. When I was a kid growing up on the farm, we learned quickly that running barefoot through the yard could get you a sting from the seemingly endless supply of honey bees that were collecting the pollen from the flowers. This is where clover honey comes from.
You may have walked right through a patch of white clover the last time you were outdoors without giving it a second thought. If so, you might be surprised to know that white clover is edible, and really rather tasty.
White clover is good for yards and gardens because it is a nitrogen-fixative plant. This means that it takes nitrogen from the air and transports it into the soil, where it can be used by other plants. This can greatly help the fertility of your soil. In fact, fertilizing white clover with nitrogen fertilizer can kill the plants.
White clover can be very good to have planted around the garden because it is a bee and butterfly attractor. You want these pollinator insects to be drawn to your garden to help pollinate your vegetable crops too.
Edible Uses Of White Clover
Besides being easy to identify, white clover is easy to use in the natural kitchen. The entire aerial (above ground) parts of the plant are edible. The flowers, leaves, seedpods, and stems are all fine for use in cooking. The leaves and flowers are probably the most used parts of the plant. They have a sweet, delicate flavor that can add a twist to your cooking. They can be used fresh or dried for later use. I use a food dehydrator on the lowest heat setting for about 5 hours to dry the flowers.
Ways To Use White Clover In The Kitchen
The leaves can be used fresh in salads or as greens in cooked dishes. The leaves and flowers both have a slightly sweet taste. They also have a mild vanilla aftertaste.
The flowers can be dried and ground up for use as a gluten-free flour substitute. The ground flowers can also be mixed in with your regular flour to add some sweet goodness to your baked goods. The slight vanilla flavor makes it good for use in cookies and cakes. Here is a Strawberry-White Clover cookie recipe that sounds delicious.
The flowers and leaves can also be dried and used to make a refreshing tisane (pronounced ti-zane). This is the actual name for what many people call herbal tea. It is simply a water infusion created with plant parts that are not actually from the Camelia sinensis plant. I found this white clover iced tea recipe for a refreshing change from regular iced tea.
Although white clover is less favored than red clover in herbal medicine circles, it still contains health benefits. It is high in vitamins like A, B2 & B3, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. It also contains minerals our bodies need such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and chromium. So if you are looking for a naturally foraged food that is good for you and sweet too, you just found it.
You can use the leaves to make a tincture. The tincture can be used as a natural alternative treatment for gout.
You can brew a tea, as mentioned above, with flowers and dried leaves to help with cold or flu symptoms. It can help reduce coughs. It is a cooling herb so it can also be helpful to help reduce fever.
It can also be helpful in reducing nausea, dizziness, or upset stomach. The tea also seems to be useful as an alternative treatment to help reduce the pain and stiffness from arthritis or rheumatism.
The tea can be brewed and used as a skin treatment for boils, irritations, stings, and other itchy skin conditions. The tea also has been used as an eye wash to treat minor eye infections and irritations.
There are a few precautions we always recommend when foraging for wild food items. First and foremost is to be totally sure about your identification of any plant you plan to consume or use on your body. Misidentification is probably the number one cause of problems for people when first starting out with wild foraging. A mistake here can be quite uncomfortable, or even deadly with certain plants. Be safe and if you aren’t sure, leave it there and ask an expert.
White clover is generally considered safe for consumption in even large quantities. But there are a few things to keep in mind. It can thin the blood, so those on blood thinners or drugs for hypertension should consult with a medical professional before consuming. You should stop consumption at least 2 weeks prior to any planned surgical procedures, including dental procedures, due to the risk of increased bleeding.
You should also be aware that consuming large quantities can lead to gas and painful bloating. Be sure to start out slowly and only consume a small amount until you are sure how your body will react.
Now that you are aware of some uses for this amazingly abundant plant, I bet you won’t look at it as simply a weed ever again. The more we learn about the natural world and all it has to offer, the more in tune with nature and the Earth we become. We learn to sustainably harvest what we need and to appreciate the true bounty that exists in nature for us to make use of.
If you would like to learn more about edible and medicinal plants we have articles on Broadleaf Plantain, Wild Lettuce, Burdock, and Dandelion posted recently.
For more information about other wild medicinal plants and essential oils, you can visit our list of articles.
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as medical advice. The health information in this article is not intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise a cure for any medical condition. Consult with your health care professional before considering any natural supplement or plant remedy for your health and wellness. We assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using manufactured or natural medications.