Wintergreen is also called teaberry or checkerberry.
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The whole plant, particularly the leaves, is a source of the volatile oil that has made wintergreen's spicy, sweet taste very popular. Wintergreen oil is used to flavor gum, candy, toothpaste, mouthwash, and birch beer a carbonated soft drink. The oil is also used in topical antiseptics and liniments.
The active element of wintergreen is methyl salicylate, which is a derivative of salicylic acid an important ingredient of aspirin. American Indians of the eastern woodlands made poultices from wintergreen leaves as a remedy for muscle and joint aches, inflammations, and toothaches.
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The Indians also taught early settlers how to make wintergreen tea for sore throats, nausea, and fevers. During the early colonization days of North America, large amounts of wintergreen were gathered, dried, and transported to distilleries where the oil was extracted from the leaves.
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Today chemical factories make synthetic oil of wintergreen in the form of methyl salicylate. The leaves of natural wintergreen can be chewed; at first they will taste sweet, but the taste turns bitter very quickly.
A picturesque town on the mighty Susquehanna River flanked by two major institutions: Bucknell University where my father taught and a federal penitentiary where Jimmy Hoffa once resided. In between them held the many houses I moved in and out of like a snail as my family changed shape and size from divorce.
Teaberry Ice Cream: A Taste of Home
Home only meant a bed and quiet rooms. I longed for a place where I felt accepted, where it was simple, where I could just be a kid. One of the few comforts during those troubled times was a tall cone of pale pink teaberry ice cream. Most people know teaberry as a gum, introduced and manufactured in Pittsburgh by the D. Clark Company in the early 20th century.
That it tastes minty is no surprise, given its wintergreen plant family of origin.
Gaultheria procumbens - Wikipedia
It seems that the D. All I knew was people in my hometown, including me, loved it with a frenzy.
There were no pieces of candy or cookies to bog it down. Teaberry could stand on its own and deliver pure joy.
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I found something I could identify with, something that made me happy, something like home. Teaberry was a taste that healed. Liz Tarpy is a freelance recipe developer, culinary researcher, recipe editor, and writer. Her love of cheese might exceed her love of a certain BBQ potato chip from her hometown. But she also adores vegetables.