Soapwort – surprising soap plant


Soapwort - surprising soap plant

What is Soapwort?
Soapwort can be found in pastures and along roadsides throughout Europe. The other common names of Soapwort are bouncing bet, crow soap, wild sweet William, soapweed. Its flowers open in the evening and stay open for up to three days. They produce a strong smell. They can be white, pale lavender or pink in colour. It is quite an invasive plant and it spreads with ease in gardens.

Soapwort in the kitchen

Soapwort flowers are used to made beer and are used for fruit salads. In the Middle East, the Soapwort root is used to make a sweet treat “halvah” (made of crushed sesame seeds, sugar, and flavourings). It also forms the basis of a frosting-like, creamy dip called “naatif”.

Halva Recipe

Soapwort extract
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of orange-flower water or rose water
1 cup of tahini sauce (or crushed sesame seeds)
Roasted pistachios (optional)

The first step is to make a Soapwort extract: use 30 g of powdered root and bring it to boil with 1 cup of water. Set aside to steep for a day. Then boil it again and reduce the liquid to one quarter. The next step is to make syrup: put sugar and one-third cup water in a saucepan, and heat for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add lemon juice and orange-flower water or rose water and boil the syrup. Remove the pan from the heat immediately when the right stage has been reached (the syrup should reach 130°C). In a large bowl, drizzle the hot sugar syrup slowly into the soapwort extract, beating vigorously and continuously until the mixture is thick, shiny, and bright white. Stir in the tahini (and pistachios if you want to add some flavour) until it thickens and forms a paste. Then transfer to a small baking dish. Wait until the halva firms up (about 2 hours). Once firm, cut into squares.

How to make a natural soap or shampoo?

Soapwort contains water-soluble, steroidal saponins that form a soap-like lather, however, soapwort doesn’t produce big bubbles. Soapwort soap is very mild and non-abrasive. It is a truly effective cleanser that doesn’t irritate the skin. You can also use it as a shampoo. Soapwort produces a very gentle soap that can be used for treating dry, itchy and sensitive skin. Some people use it to treat chronic acne, psoriasis, or other sore skin problems. What is interesting, museum conservators still use soapwort extracts for cleaning fragile, priceless fabrics.

Soap: to make your own liquid soap just take about 1 tablespoon of grounded root and add 250 ml of water. Boil for 30 minutes, then cool and strain.

Shampoo: use 1 tablespoon of Soapwort Root and 1 cup water. Boil the water and add the soapwort. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Let it cool off. Then strain the infusion through a clean cheesecloth into a bottle. Give the bottle a good shake and pour it into your wet hair while you shower.

You can also add other herbs to your shampoo: Rose Petals, Hibiscus Flower or Stinging Nettle Leaf.

Health benefits of Soapwort

Soapwort is regarded to have expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic and laxative properties. In herbal medicine, soapwort is mainly used as a remedy for a cough, bronchitis, and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract (it stimulates the fluid secretion of the bronchi).

Soapwort can also be used to help treat joint pain stemming from arthritis, rheumatism and gout.

Please note soapwort should never be consumed in a large dosage or over a long period of time because it may causehaemolysis, and severe irritation of the digestive tract resulting in cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

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