Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Redbud Tree's are exploding with gorgeous bright pink buds and flowers this time of year. Spring is my favorite season and these tree's make it even more enjoyable for me. I recently learned that these tree's aren't just beautiful they're full of food and medicine, with every part of the tree having a purpose.
Eastern Redbud trees are native across much of the United States and Canada. They’re small trees in the pea family and among the first to bloom in the spring before they leaf out. They also produce large numbers of multi-seeded pods, from spring to late summer. The flowers are small and showy, light to dark magenta pink in color, appearing in clusters from Spring to early Summer, They appear on bare stems before the leaves, sometimes on the trunk itself. The flowers are food for and pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. short-tongued bees apparently cannot reach the nectar.
Native Americans have incorporated the Redbud tree for thousands of years and still do to this day. Because of them we know of the medicinal and food source of this amazing resource. The Redbud flowers can be eaten raw or cooked as well as the young pods and seeds. They have a slightly sweet and sour taste with a sweet pea after taste. They’re loaded with Vitamin C and a pleasant addition to salads or can also be used as a condiment. The unopened flower buds can be pickled or used as a caper substitute and in addition the flowers make a delicious tea, jelly, breads, and several other recipes (I'll include a couple below).
The seed is about 25% protein, 8% fat and 3% ash. More so, a 2006 study show the flowers and the seeds to be very high in antioxidants as well as linoleic, alpha-linolenic acid, oleic, and palmitic acids. Think of it as The First Forager’s Health Food Store. Young leaves are also edible raw or cooked.
A tea made from the inner bark is highly astringent and can be used to fight Influenza, fever, and dysentery as well as other viral and bacterial infections. A cold infusion of the roots and inner bark have been used to treat various respiratory complaints including whooping cough and congestion.
The bark of young shoots is used in basket making as well as other items and the pink flowers produce a stunning bright yellow dye. Simply the Redbud tree is not only gorgeous it's a valuable commodity, rich with nutrients, medicinal resources and more.
Redbud Blossom Muffins
2 cups Redbuds blossoms
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage or rosemary leaves
½ cup sugar
Finley grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour with xanthum gum (you can substitute with 1 1/2-2 cups wheat flour if preferred)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine the Redbuds, herbs, sugar, zest.
In a separate large mixing bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another separate bowl combine eggs, yogurt, milk, butter/oil, and lemon juice.
Pour the Redbud mixture into the flour mixture in the large mixing bowl and mix gently or toss.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to moisten. Let sit covered at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Fill your muffin tins 3/4 full.
Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and sprinkle on each muffin.
Bake for 30 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. (25 minutes for wheat flour)
Remove form the muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.
Redbud Blossom Jelly
Ingredients- 2-3 cups Redbud blossoms
2 cups boiling water 2 Tbsp Lemon juice 3 Tbsp powdered pectin 1 cup sugar 1 quart mason jar with lid
(jelly jars and lids/seals)
First- Place rinsed Redbud flowers in a quart jar and barely cover with approximately 2 cups of boiling water. The flowers will float so push them down a couple of times with a spoon. Screw on the mason jar lid and let cool at room temperature. Once cooled, place the jar in the refrigerator overnight. Try to let sit for at least 24 hours.
After you've soaked the flowers, strain the liquid into a container and discard the blossoms (our chickens love them!) Now you have Redbud flower extract.
For every 2 cups of the Redbud extract add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 3 Tbsp of powdered pectin. Stir with a whisk and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of sugar and bring back to a rolling boil. Hard boil for one minute and then pour into sterilized jelly jars and seal.
Process using the hot water-bath method for five minutes.