Early on in my foraging days, I took a weed walk with a local well-known forager. I learned some of my very first mushrooms that day, but the most interesting finds were plants I already knew. Red clover grows just about everywhere on my homestead, and while I knew it was medicinal, I had no idea that it is also a valuable wild food source.
Our foraging guide looked at the group and said, “Who remembers eating red clover as a child?”
About 2/3rds of the group raised their hand, but I wasn’t among them. There were few wild plants in my childhood, growing up in the desert of Southern California. The only plant I remember from my childhood is pineapple weed because it would sprout right out of the cracks in the asphalt playground at my elementary school. There’s no stopping that one.
Red clover likes ample water to grow, and while I’d occasionally see patches of white clover in lawns growing up, but the only exposure I’d had to red clover was watching Thumper take big bites of it in the movie Bambi.
Each red clover flower has a drop of sweet nectar that you can eat by carefully removing the flower from the stem. That attachment point will put out a drop of honeydew, and apparently, it’s loved by children in the Northeast. I missed out on this one as a child, but I gave it a try and it is in fact quite sweet. There’s very little to “eat” but you do get a drop of sugar on your tongue.
How to Make Red Clover Flour
If you want real survival sustenance, red clover nectar isn’t going to cut it. The flowers have more than just that drop to give though. If dried and then ground, red clover flowers make a highly nutritious red clover flour. For every 8 cups of flowering tops harvested, you can produce about 1 cup of ground flour. To understand the whole process, read through this post on how to make clover flower flour.
Medicinal Uses of Red Clover
Beyond their use as a tasty edible flower, clover is also medicinal.
Historically, red clover was used as a blood purifier, fever reducer and for colds, flus and coughs. Modern science is finding that these traditional uses have merit, and it’s still used by herbalists to cleanse the body of metabolic waste products. This cleansing action helps red clover to heal skin conditions like eczema.
The herb has expectorant and antispasmodic properties, which mean that red clover can help with coughs and lung issues. Red clover is calming and acts as a mild sedative, which is great for colds and flu.
Since red clover works gently, it’s often used to treat skin conditions and colds in children.
Peer-reviewed studies have shown that red clover is a potent herb for balancing hormones, especially in menopausal women. It reduces menopausal symptoms and can help with other hormonal imbalances including anxiety and depression.
How to Use Red Clover
Red clover is usually taken as either a tea or a tincture. Make a tea with a few tablespoons of dried blossoms to a cup of water, and enjoy several times per day. As a tincture, take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon three times per day. That’s about 100 drops or 3 to 6 droppers full per day.
Red clover tincture can be made by submerging blossoms in a neutral alcohol and waiting about 6 weeks. You can also purchase ready-made tincture here. Many commercial tincture preparations are made alcohol free because red clover is often used in treating children. Traditional medicinals markets a red clover tea to “support healthy skin” and “promote good mood.”