Iced Meadowsweet Dessert
July is a month of flowers and seed heads for me, foraging about the wilder places around my home in Lincs. At the moment, Meadowsweet is coming out in all its creamy frothy glory. Found in these parts growing in the bottom of ditches by the roadside. Tall enough to spot as you drive by, but frequently out of reach when you pull over to try and forage some…. I guess it likes its root damp and its blooms in full sun.
The heady vanilla-like smell is so distinctive, a sort of antiseptic smell overlying something much more passionate and earthy. For obvious reasons, it was once a strewing herb - that is - it was tossed about the floor to improve the smell in the homestead.
But, a warning - it is usually full of tiny black beetle type bugs, so best not to bury your nose too deeply at the same time as sniffing too hard…… and collect into a bag that you can twist shut if you are travelling by car and don't want them crawling about for a week afterwards. When you get them home, let all the bugs crawl out outside before you bring the blooms in to the house to use or dry, or else you will find them all over your window panes the next morning.
This is one of the plants from which aspirin launched, providing something called salicylic acid. It is indeed a gentle herbal pain killer. But known to herbalists as gently astringent on the stomach, a traditional remedy especially beneficial in soothing an upset stomach and diarrhoea. Containing anti-inflammatory constituents, it is also effective in treating joint problem associated with acidity, soothing heartburn from hyperacidity, and ulcers. It has developed a reputation for being helpful in dispelling uric and oxalic acid, so useful for those suffering from gout or stones.
I pick some to dry for tea and to flavour a pudding or two. It is a very distinct and lovely flavour, unlike anything else. One to really wow your friends and family with your ingenuity.
The best way I have found is to make a syrup with the blossom as you would with elderflowers and use that to flavour panna cotta, cordial, cream, sorbet, Turkish delight etc. Or try the following treat frozen dessert.
Iced Meadowsweet Dessert
- 4 handfuls of Meadowsweet flowers
- 225g of brown caster sugar
- 3 juiced lemons
- 1 thinly grated lemon rind
- 600ml of water
- Put sugar into water, stir and bring to a boil.
- Rapid boil the sugar water for 10 minutes to produce a light syrup.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- Now add the juiced lemons and the thinly grated lemon rind. Stir.
- Next add the Meadowsweet flowers. Stir. Allow to infuse until the syrup is cool/cold.
- Strain the syrup through a muslin and freeze in a plastic container overnight.
- Now take out your frozen Meadowsweet syrup (it won’t be that frozen), and blend with a hand-blender until smooth. Then put back in the freezer for 24 hours.
- Take out and blend again, then freeze for a further 48 hours. Enjoy.
Serves: 1 to 6 people depending on how greedy you are!
Jules Weldon is the Medical Herbalist and Lifestyle Coach at Orchard Barn Clinic.