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Using Goldenrod Blossoms to Make a Yellow Dye

This fall, I have a group of interns working with me at the farm. Most of the time we are working in the garden, in the woods or in the mushroom forest but sometimes we just gotta play a little bit!

Everyone is still working but learning is a full on hands on experience, am I right? With seasonal plants and mushrooms, we find ourselves immersed in that particular plant for hours, days or even weeks depending on the lenghth of the growing and harvesting season.

Goldenrod starts growing in the spring at which time you harvest the leaves for teas and tinctures. Then as the plant grows taller and taller reaching for the sun, the flower spikes start blooming a gorgeous yellow color which of course, attracts many pollinators to it! This poor plant gets blamed for fall allergies but it is not goldenrod that causes most allergies, it is ragweed. Ragweed is a samller plant with pollen filled clusters of greenish "balls" along a spike. It is NOT yellow. Goldenrod is the actual remedy for allergies and can be made into a tea or a tincture. Good stuff for sure!

Goldenrod's botanical name is Solidago or "To Make One Whole" and there are over 100 species in the world. Who knows which variety I have as there are several intertwined in my garden and the surrounding fields.

There are multiple uses for this beautiful plant including the remedy above and it works as an anti-inflammatory for muscles, can be incorporated into salves, lotions or even added to baked goods. Yep - how about a Goldenrod Cornbread? The recipe is in our cookbook, Wild Eating With the Forager Chicks

Let me start this tutorial off with, I have NEVER made a natural dye before and I am a bit of a rebel with instructions.

Sooooo....I did ask for help from my friend Pam and for an ingredient that I did not have called, ALUM. She proceeded to hand me like 5 different things- 2 different alums because evidently you need one for plant fibers and one for animal fiber. And she gave me 2 books to look through. This was on a Monday and I planned to do the project on Tuesday.

I looked through the books to find the EASIEST method and then I looked online and combined the too - LOL!!! It worked so I guess I did ok.

1. Tuesday morning, we gathered a pound of goldenrod flowers - we needed that much because the washed and damp bandanas weighed almost a pound total. ( I did wash those the day before by putting them in a pot with 1 teaspoon dish soap and a tablespoon super washing soda and simmered on low for 30 minutes, strained and rinsed)

2. We clipped the flowers into a large stainless steel pot and added water just to cover, alittle over a gallon of water. Bring it up to just before boil and then reduced the heat to a very low simmer for about 45 minutes.

3. Strain it through a mesh bag line strainer over another pot. Measure it.

4. Put pot of liquid back on stove and add 1 Tablespoon ALUM - Aluminum Acetate. Mix well and heat up til blended, like 5-10 minutes.

5. Place your dampened bandanas in the pot one at a time and mix around. Heat on low simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour. We did not have another hour so we stopped it about 35-40 minutes in. **Keep stirring every few minutes to make sure the color is even throughout**

6. Take each bandana out and rinse in cold water, squeezeng but NOT WRINGING, until water runs kinda clear. I got impatient. The final color was a beautiful light yellow!!

7. Hang to dry.

If we wanted to do some fancy stuff, I was not ready for it yet, we could have added some iron to make it darker more green. Or added tin to make it brighter? Can't remember if that is what the tin was for. But you can make about 6 different shades with one single plant, how amazing!

I am happy with how it came out and I proceeded to dump in a bunch of older tea towels in the remaining mix in the pot after the ladies left. Why have boring old white tea towels when you can have yellow...hahahaha.

Short video will be up on the Forager Chick YouTube Channel next week!

Hope you enjoyed this, let me know if you have made natural dye before?

Have a beautiful day!


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