I must admit I feel a bit bad calling this deliciously refreshing spring drink a recipe, because basically, you put Cleavers – Sticky Weed, Goat’s Weed or Sticky Willy, Goose Grass or Bedstraw, among its more popular names – into a jar for a few days and strain and drink, but bear with me; Cleaver Water is my favourite spring drink and mixer, I’m going to tell you why.
Cleavers grow all along the hedgerows at this time of year, and while you can snap off the tender young tips for a road-side snack, you can use most of the plant for this drink.
I take a nice big handful and add it to a 2l kilner jar with a sliced up lemon and a tablespoon of xylitol. You could use sugar, but as I’m keto/low carb, I prefer to use the birchwood sugar alternative that doesn’t leave the same bitter aftertaste as aspartame or stevia. (And it’s apparently good for my teeth too, so… winner)
I generally leave it in the fridge for about a week, but just overnight should be sufficient. It turns the water into a thick, soft, smooth juice, which I then decant to 500ml bottles, so that I just have a small amount in a glass. I’m not sure if this can go ‘off’ or not, but in the smaller bottles that’s not a problem as one is only open for a few days at best.
Cleaver juice is touted as a morning ‘wonder drink’, but I absolutely love it with a shot of vodka, topped off with sparkling water. It’s one of the most refreshing drinks of the year, in my opinion!
A Little on Cleavers
Cleavers grow prolifically all around the world and have been used from Native American tribes to Chinese medicine to parts of Sweden and everywhere in between. It was thought to be what Mary lay in Jesus’ crib to soften the bed, as it has been used for bedding for many years – hence one of its nicknames, bedstraw! Cleavers contain phenols, tannins, alkaloids, anthraquinones, coumarins, iridoids asperuloside, alkanes, flavonoids and saponins and as such have been used throughout history for bladder, kidney, liver and urinary tract health. It is a diuretic, and has great uses in the lymphatic system, helping to flush toxins, and decrease swelling and sluggishness.
Please note: This is not medical advice, but for information purposes only!
- 2 large handfuls of cleavers (about half a Kilner jar full)
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon xylitol (or other sugar)
- Place the cleavers, lemon and xylitol into a 2 litre Kilner Jar (or a 1.8 lire Korken Jar works too).
- Top up with water. Place in the fridge for up to a week.
- Strain out the liquid, transferring to airtight containers (I use 3 x 500ml flip top bottles)
- Mix with sparkling water and/or vodka for a refreshing drink.