How To Harvest Rue Plants: Tips On Using Rue Herbs In The Garden
Rue plants are one of the most popular herbs in the garden. They grow easily and have a long life span. Their leaves are edible when cooked properly. Rooibos (also known as Indian gooseberry) is native to Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. It grows up to 2 feet tall with purple flowers that turn red at maturity.
The best time to harvest rue plants is during the spring or summer months. You can start harvesting them right after they bloom. If you want to wait until fall, then it will take longer before they’re ready to eat. When you do harvest them, keep in mind that their flavor improves if left out for a few days so don’t throw away any that haven’t turned red yet!
When you get home from work, let your children help you gather the plants. Then, place them in a large bowl filled with water. Let them soak for 10 minutes before draining off the excess water and placing them back into the bowl. Cover and leave overnight to allow all of the excess moisture to drain off.
The next day, lay out a large piece of wax paper. Drop the rue into the middle and start breaking up the clumps using your hands. Once it is in an even layer, gently flip the paper over. Slide the rue off onto another piece of wax paper and continue with the rest of the plants. Now, all you need to do is place them in jars or plastic bags and put in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Harvesting rue is a straightforward affair. Start by turning your attention towards the stems. You will notice that they are green with a few red spots here and there. These red spots signify that the plant is ripe and ready to be picked.
You can either carefully cut the stems off at the base of the plant, or you can break them off using your hands. If you choose the latter option, do not worry if you snap off the top part of the stem. Just be sure to get the bottom inch or so where it meets the soil.
Make sure that your scissors are very clean before you start or you could end up introducing harmful bacteria into your precious rue harvest!
You can also pick the leaves themselves. In order to do this, gather them in your hands and pull them off of the stem. If the stem is stubborn, give it a little twist but be careful not to tear the leaf in two.
Sources & references used in this article:
LET A THOUSAND FLOWERS BLOOM: HOW CAN UNDER-UTILIZED PLANT SPECIES CONTRIBUTE TO BIODIVERSITY OBJECTIVES? by M Smith – 1999 – Macmillan
Rue (Ruta L., Rutaceae) in traditional Spain: Frequency and distribution of its medicinal and symbolic applications by JA McNeely, F Schutyser… – … on Under-utilized Plant …, 2003 – researchgate.net
Companion plants and how to use them by E San Miguel – Economic botany, 2003 – Springer
Medicinal plants: An expanding role in development by H Philbrick, RB Gregg – 2012 – books.google.com
Gardens of New Spain: how Mediterranean plants and foods changed America by JP Srivastava, J Lambert, N Vietmeyer – 1996 – elibrary.worldbank.org