Foraging in April – preparations for a workshop
I always like to include an element of foraging in our workshop menus, but this proves harder in winter and spring than at other times of the year. The Downs are covered in gorse flowers this time of year but I had no idea you could use them to make edible things! I came across a foraging website mentioning gorse wine and this got me thinking! I searched for gorse cordial recipes and came across a few. I decided to use this recipe from Eatweeds as my starting point and headed out on the South Downs for some spring time foraging!
|I am in love with the South Downs and they are only 10 minutes walk from my house!|
|Gorse flowers are really pretty but also REALLY prickly. Watch out for those sharp thorns!|
|The sun was so warm and lovely my alpaca headband quickly came off!|
It was a beautiful day, really nice and warm. I’d of course dressed up in lots of knitwear, but my Inca Headband proved one step too far and had to come off. I may have even got a slight tan!
Picking the flowers proved to be a cumbersome and hazardous task. Who new they had such sharp thorns? Definitely not me… I quickly worked out to aim for the flowers furthest out on the branches and only pick the ones easily accessible, otherwise your hands end up like pincushions!
I’ll admit to getting bored quickly and not picking as much as I had planned to, but I did return with a little bag full. When I weighed them it added up to 110g.
|What a fantastic colour!|
I adapted the recipe a little and ended up with these quantities.
110 g gorse flowers
800 ml water
300 g sugar
zest of an orange
juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
This is how I made my gorse flower syrup:
Make sure you have only picked flowers and no bugs or thorns.
Bring sugar and water to a rapid boil and boil for 10 min.
Add zest of one orange, juice of an orange and a lemon and the gorse flowers to the sugar syrup and submerge in the sugar syrup. Leave to cool overnight.
On the next day strain the liquid through a cloth.
I ended up with 825 ml of finished syrup.
You can use the liquid right away but because I want to keep mine for a little while I went through one more step.
Sterilize bottles by pouring boiling water over them. Place the liquid back on the heat and bring to a boil. I left my liquid to boil for about 10 min and scraped off any foam forming on the surface. Fill your gorse syrup onto your hot bottles and seal. They should now keep well for at least a couple of months. As I have not tried making syrups and cordials with gorse flowers before I can’t say for sure, but my elderflower cordial kept for 4 months (and probably could have kept for longer had I not drunk it all…).
The end result is really lovely, in hindsight I should have maybe picked a few more flowers to get a stronger flavour, but the subtle hint of coconutty taste is really nice! It makes a really refreshing drink diluted with water and with a slice of orange and would probably be even nicer with lemonade or even as a mixer for a fruity gin and tonic!
I plan on serving this Gorse Flower Cordial at our April workshop and hope it will go down well. Our April workshop is already fully booked but if you would like to take part we have two more dates lined up for the summer. Maybe this year’s batch of Elderflower Cordial will be ready for then!