The young, heart-shaped leaves of lime (linden) are edible. They have a succulent almost sweet flavour which, believe it or not, is enhanced once the leaf is covered in honey dew from aphids!
Lime, or Linden, trees , were once very common across Britain. Today, they are considered a remnant of ancient woodland, and if you spot one in the woods, it may be a sign that you are in a rare habitat. Today they are more commonly spotted in country parks, along avenues and in urban areas. This widespread availability makes the linden tree great for foragers.
The young leaves can be cooked, but are best eaten raw. Add them to salads or sandwiches instead of lettuce. Since there are a lot of shoots on the tree during the growing season, these are perfect for picking throughout the summer.
To make linden tea, steep 1-2 teaspoons or so in 1 cup hot water – longer if you want more taste. Add a spoonful of honey if you prefer your tea sweetened. Drink hot or cold.
The flowers can also be used to flavour liqueurs, lemonade and cordial.
Lime leaves have been used as a herbal remedy since ancient times and limeme sap was once used as a cure for baldness!
If you are going to forage in the countryside, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful