Harvest woodruff and use fresh or preserved

Harvest woodruff and use fresh or preserved

Find woodruff for the harvest

As a wild plant, the woodruff is not widespread in all regions of Central Europe. However, it is most likely to be discovered in shady places in light and not too dry forests. Here, due to the self-sowing of the seeds and the propagation via root runners, it usually forms extensive carpets at its location, which reach a maximum height of 30 centimeters. Its characteristic leaves, which are arranged around the stem in a lance-shaped manner, make it difficult to confuse it with other plants. Woodruff is particularly easy to find from April and May, when the woodruff's heyday begins, not only because of its sweet fragrance. The flowers are shaped like small white crosses and are said to have served as a model for the appearance of the Swiss flag.

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Grow woodruff yourself

If you cannot find a woodruff in the woods around you, you can plant it yourself relatively easily. You can use a shady location under trees or shrubs in the garden, or you can grow the woodruff in a shady place directly in the pot. Since it is a frost germ, the woodruff's sowing time is around September to December. However, a larger harvest should only be obtained from the young plants in the second year of growth, as the cut in the first year inhibits the plants in their development and growth.

The perfect time to harvest woodruff

In principle, woodruff can be harvested and preserved from spring to autumn. However, there is definitely a reason why the plant, which is also used for the typical May punch, is mainly cut before the flowering period in spring. With the flowering, the value of the coumarin contained in the woodruff rises sharply and with it the risk of overdosing, which could lead to malaise, headaches and, if taken regularly, even to liver damage. Therefore, it is better to choose the time for harvesting from the beginning to mid-April or, in cool locations, until mid-May.

Making the woodruff durable

The woodruff can be made durable either by drying or freezing. Various procedures can be selected for drying:

  • hanging tied bouquets in an airy place
  • drying in a dehydrator
  • drying at low temperature in a slightly open oven

For freezing, either bound bouquets or already chopped leaves can be placed in the freezer compartment in portions.

Tips & Tricks

Let the fresh woodruff wither for a few hours after the harvest or freeze briefly before using it for may punch or other recipes. By splitting the coumarin, the taste will then emerge even more intensely.