orWine Tastings in the Comfort of you own villa or B&B while on holiday in Tuscany or Liguria

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Saturday, 14 February 2009

gorse season is kissing season

“Whenever the gorse flower is blooming, it is then designated as kissing season.” Paul Peacock in his book A Good Life attributed this quote to John Seymour, author of the Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency. The fact that gorse flowers every month of the year even in more northern climes obviously makes kissing a very popular past time for the man. It seemed appropriate therefore to go out today on St. Valentines Day and pick some gorse flowers to make John’s favourite drink, gorse flower wine.

Whilst others indulge in buying there beloveds bouquets of flowers, Belgian chocolates and Chinese kitsch and send each other cards with cheesy messages, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and gathered these delicate flowers. The weather has been clear and sunny since the last post, albeit a bit colder with some light night frosts. Here is how to make gorse wine:

4.5 litre of water
1.8 kg of sugar
A handful of chopped raisins
Juice of 3 or 4 lemons
½ cup strong tea
A couple of handfuls of honey
4.5 litres of gorse flowers
1 sachet of dried yeast

Heat the water with sugar until dissolved. Leave to cool. Add the rest of the ingredients in a covered bucket and leave at warm place. After a week or so strain the liquid into a 5 litre demijohn with an airlock and finish fermenting until all sugar has been turned to alcohol and the bubbles have seized to come through the airlock. Rack the wine into a clean 5 litre demijohn, adding some white wine to top it up. Leave to clear for a few weeks and bottle. This is my way anyway. John Seymour instructs to pour the boiling water over the flowers, but I believe you loose a lot of aromatic components of the flowers that way.

Yesterday we cycled to Arcola to dig over one of the higher terraces in preparation for a long row of sweet corn. As our land is roughly triangular in shape the higher terraces are wider, this one being about 20 metres long. Susan started one end and me the other, meeting in the middle somewhere.

I have this week learned about one of the younger followers of this blog, 13 year old Markus from Augsburg, who visits the International School there. Apparently he is interested in all things to do with nature and the environment. He particularly enjoys the recipes that I occasionally throw in. So here especially for Markus something we’ve been eating a couple of times recently, a wildfood salad. It’s not so much a recipe as a hint on how many edible plants there actually are. I took a couple of the suggestions of a calendar I got from our local hardware shop, which has all sorts of gardening tips as well as a monthly feature on edible wild plants.

Daisies – both the leaves and flowers are edible. They have a delicate flavour somewhere in-between fennel and camomile.
Primroses – again both flowers and leaves are edible, although I haven’t found any just yet.
Dandelion – if you pick the young leaves early in the season, they add a slight bitter edge to your salad. The older leaves are too bitter though.
Wild onions – Make sure they are onions by smelling and tasting them. They can either be eaten whole like spring onions or you just snip of the green bit off the top like chives.
Salad burnett – Pimpinelle in German. This plant has very fine, small leaves with a faint cucumbery flavour. It grows everywhere around here, all year around, but I’ve known nobody who actually uses this plant.
Lemon balm – looks like stingy nettles, but has a delicious lemony smell and flavour.
Borage – again a bit early in the season, but both the pretty blue flowers and the hairy leaves can be eaten and also taste of cucumber.
Rocket / rucola – Not strictly a wild plant, but once you have sowed out some somewhere in your garden it will sow itself out again year after year. We are never without it, and I enjoy it’s peppery flavour.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over it and hey presto! If you ever fancy coming over helping us on the land and picking up a few cooking tips, just get your parents to put you on plane and we’ll pick you up the other end.


Anonymous said...

I hope youenjoys A Good Life. John pickd gorse flowee wnis eyes were more or less gone and cut his fingers badly. So they turned to something else, but he did love is gorse wine almost as much as kissing.
Paul P

Heiko said...

Would this be the Paul P I quoted above? Glad your spelling in the book was better than on your comment. Happy to hear from you and yes I did enjoy the book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog- it is an inspiration to some of us city folk keep up the hard work

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting this up and keeping it simple, best wishes from Scotland