Harvesting Locust Flowers

A pile of harvested locust flowers.

This past Wednesday, after lessons, my host mom asked me if I’d like to go to their larger garden with her.  While they have a pretty big garden behind our house, they also have another plot of land about a two minute walk away, where they grow the majority of their vegetables.  We checked on the strawberry plants, which unfortunately aren’t quite ripe yet (though hopefully in the next week or two!), as well as the other plants.

Then, my host mom explained that we were going to pick the flowers off of the trees surrounding the plot of land.  She told me they were salcâm trees.  They use the flowers to make tea and jam.  She explained that for the jam, you can just run your hands along the stems to quickly remove all of the flowers, but we were harvesting for tea.  For tea, you need to pick off each bunch of flowers, keeping them in intact bunches.  First, we would snap larger branches full of bunches of flowers off the trees.  The branches have huge thorns that you need to be careful of.  A lot of the flowers were on the higher branches, so my host mom used a garden tool to cut down the branches.

The flowers laid out to dry in our house- they are piled about 6 inches high!

After we had a lot of big and smaller branches, we sat together on the ground in the shade and picked the bunches off, putting them in a big sack.  It was a lot like picking blueberries, but a bit harder on the fingers.  While the stems of the bunches don’t have the large thorns, I had trouble completely avoiding the thorns on the branches.  With two of us working, it didn’t take a ton of time.  We probably worked for about 2 hours before we had harvested all of the flowers we could reach with either or arms or the gardening tool.

When we got home, we laid all the bunches out on an extra table in a room we don’t use much.  Once they are completely dried, we can store them in the beci (root cellar) to use for tea throughout the year.  I’ve never had locust flowers in tea before, so I’m excited to see how it tastes!  I really enjoyed working alongside my host mom and I was glad to learn something new!