The magnificent yellow flowers have a wonderful scent and coconut flavour which can be used like rosewater to flavour delicate desserts. Or it can even be used as a skin toner, mouthwash, decongestant or insect repellant.
Gorse flower water
- Take a large pan and place a sturdy ramekin in the bottom.
- Place a few handfuls of slightly bruised flower petals around the ramekin.
- Put a heatproof bowl on top of the ramekin and fill the pan with boiling water, covering the petals, reaching the top of the ramekin and touching the bottom of the heatproof bowl.
- Place a lid upside down on top and turn on the heat.
- As the water comes to the boil, place ice cubes on the lid. This causes distillation as the water from the flowers rises, hits the cold lid and trickles back down into the bowl.
The water lasts up to 18 months, and is best kept in the fridge.
As many gorse petals as you can pick! Ideally, at least a litre jugful.
Juice & zest of two oranges
Pick the gorse flowers on a dry sunny day, ideally when you can smell the coconut fragrance as this will give a more flavour full cordial. Put the blossoms in a pan and cover with boiling water. You want to add just enough water to submerge the flowers. Leave to steep overnight. Strain through a jelly bag or piece of muslin. Add the zest and juice from the oranges. Measure out the liquid and pour back into the pan. Add 700g of sugar per litre of liquid or sweetner of choice and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour into hot sterilised bottles if you want to keep it for a few months, otherwise bottle into clean containers and keep in the fridge.
Gorse flower jelly
- gorse flowers
- pinch sea salt
- 6 leaves of gelatine per 500ml liquid or agar to set
- Pick half a shopping bag full of gorse flowers, sepals removed.
- Place in a bowl, cover with boiling water, dampen sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Chill and steep overnight.Strain into measuring bowl or container on scales.
- Add honey to taste and a little salt to mellow any bitterness –again to taste.
- Soften 6 leaves of gelatine per 500ml liquid in cold water for around 5 minutes.
- Warm around ¼ of the gorse flower liquid. Squeeze excess moisture out of the gelatine and dissolve in warm liquid. Disperse into rest of liquid.
- Pour into mould and chill to set.
Harvesting the flowers:
With gorse flowers, it’s more a case of slow plucking than snappy picking and you will need to be very, very patient. Actually, rush if you like but you will pay the price with lots of nasty spikes and pricks from the thorny spines that give gorse its natural protection from predators.
Check, as you pluck, for tiny white maggots with little black heads and for other roaming insects. Enjoy the colour and aroma of gorse but don’t over eat. The plant contains slightly toxic alkaloids