Friday, June 7, 2013

Lemon Thistle Martini

Every year about this time I see thistle taking over parks and empty lots all over my area.  I have always liked this plant because I find it to be beautiful.  Occasionally I would stop and carefully pick a bouquet as a centerpiece for my table, and until now, that has been the only reasonable use.

In my treasure hunt to find local, edible and natural food sources, I discovered that yes, thistle is edible but it is not for the veggie wimp.  You will need something like these:

Gloves were a present from my lovely husband!  They are thicker than regular rubber gloves.

Historically, thistle has been used to treat liver, kidney and gall bladder problems. It helps to protect the liver from damage and improve some symptoms of hepatitis. Research has also suggested that it has anti-cancer effects by reducing the blood supply to tumors and preventing cancer cells from dividing and reproducing. 

It originated in the Mediterranean region and likes dry sunny areas. In middle Tennessee it seems to grow everywhere.  All parts of the plant are edible though the seeds are generally what are used in current times.  The leaves can be trimmed of their prickles and used as a spinach substitute.  In the past these were commonly used in salads, soups and pies.  The seeds can be roasted and used in a coffee fashion once ground. The mid rib of the larger leaves can also be cut out and used in recipes.

So far, here is my favorite recipe for thistle!  This makes a very vibrant green drink.  My super picky kids liked the juice (before Vodka, of course)!

Lemon Thistle Martini


10 small thistle leaves or 5 large leaves
4 cups cold water
1 green apple sliced with seeds removed
4 T sugar
2 lemons sliced, seeds mostly removed


Add ingredients except Vodka to blender and blend well.  It is optional to remove the skin of the lemons.  If you prefer less tart, then remove before blending.

Strain out the pulp. 

Cool color, huh? I strained the bulk out first and then strained again.

In a martini glass, add a shot of Vodka and ice (or chill with a shaker).  Fill with mixture.  Enjoy!

Other potential recipes worth trying:

Buttered Sow-Thistle
Stir-fried Sow-Thistle and Pork
Braised Thistle Stem
Sweet Chilli Thistles
Thistle Stroganoff

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