Basic Syrup Making Method
A great way of preserving the flavour of your sweet or aromatic foraged finds is to turn them into sticky, infused syrups. These syrups can then be added to a range of puddings and desserts to impart the natural flavour of the find, or used as a cordial base for hot, cold (and alcoholic!) drinks. The basic method described below can be used for a range of finds, particularly flowers, such as gorse and clover, and berries such as bilberry, raspberry and blackberry.
Basic Syrup Recipe
This basic recipe can be used to create sweet flavoured syrups from your foraged finds. It is perfect for pouring over puddings and desserts, or used as a base for making flavoured drinks, mocktails and cocktails.
- 1 Part Foraged Item (See list below for some suitable items).
- 1 Part Water
- 1 Part Granulated Sugar
- Harvest and wash enough healthy wild plants / flowers / berries to fill a 1ltr Jug. Place these in a saucepan.
- Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the foraged items. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the hob.
- OPTIONAL: For a more intense flavour, leave the mixture to steep in a cool place overnight.
- Strain the contents into a measuring jug through a tight-mesh seive or cheesecloth to remove all traces of the foraged item. Don't squash or press down on the boiled plant / flower/ berry mixture as this will make your syrup cloudy. Measure the amount of strained liquid.
- Put the strained liquid back into a saucepan on the hob and add the equivalent weight in sugar. For example, if you have 500ml of strained liquid, add 500g of sugar (1:1 ratio).
- Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the boil and allow to cool.
- Once cooled, decant into a sterilized bottle and keep in the fridge. The syrup will keep for 6-7 weeks.
Popular Plants to Forage for Syrup
Below are just some of the wild plants that are popular for syrup making amongst foragers.
Once you have grasped the basic process, syrup making is really rather simple, with just three key ingredients - the foraged find, water and sugar! You can however, get a little creative by introducing new flavours such as herbs, dried spices or fresh fruit, or substituting the granulated sugar with other sweet alternatives, such as brown or demerara sugar, birch or maple syrup, or even honey. Look for flavours that go together and try to incorporate them into a syrup - for example, Water Mint marries wonderfully with lime and brown sugar, Nettle tastes great with ginger or fennel and Cherries are devine when paired with maple syrup. The opportunities for creative desserts, puddings, drinks and beverages are endless!