Hawthorn Flower Syrup

One of the things I love about researching plants is having a damn good rummage through ancient manuscripts and cookery books scouting out long forgotten recipes.

Two days ago I visited the Bodleian library in Oxford. Confined to the outside only, so not really a visit more a pinning for what gems lay hidden on its shelves. I imagined a nightime raid with grappling hooks, zip wires and balacalava. 

Then remembered how old I am and my imaginary exploits of breaking into ‘The Bod’ pettered out rather quickly.

I don’t think breaking into such a cultural heritage site would have put the foraging movement in good favour with an already twitchy media and government.

So today in order to satiate my consumption of knowledge I went to virtually rummage recipes online. Coming across delightfully titled subjects as ‘To pickle sparrows’, ‘To pickle broom buds’ etc.

Last year I had created the most divine hawthorn flower syrup imaginable. Even I was astounded that my ‘all fingers and no thumbs’ style of cooking crafted such a fine beverage.

Sadly, it was done on the spur of the moment and I had not been as disciplined as I usually am. So the ingredients and instructions for making it had failed to be recorded.

I knew however, that I had reworked some centuries old recipe. And it was this that I was searching for today.

After much digital page flicking and for some reason I still lick my finger when doing this. Old habits and all that die hard. There it was. The source of my creation.

In these bygone tomes, the publisher would print the S as an F, so it sounds when prounoucing the words, as though one has a lisp (or no teeth).

Here is the original recipe, translated into modern English by myself.

And no, I’m not telling you which manuscript it came from. People steal enough of my work without handing it to these scoundrels on a platter.

For this recipe you will be making a makeshift ‘bain marie’. So will need a wide mouth saucepan and a large jar with a cap. The jar needs to sit inside the saucepan.

Hawthorn Flower Syrup Instructions 

Weigh your hawthorn blossom (having removing any twigs, insects and faeries etc.). Weigh out an equal amount of caster sugar.

In a jar first layer some flowers, then cover with a sprinkling of caster sugar, then more flowers, sugar, flowers, sugar etc. until the jar is full. Dribble three dessert spoonfuls of water over the contents and tie some muslin on top. 

Place the jar inside your saucepan and pour water around the edge until it is two-thirds up the jar. Bring to a very low simmer allowing the caster sugar to dissolve. Keep on a low simmer for about an hour. Top up the water around the edges if its is going down. You do not want it to go dry!

After an hour take the jar out of the saucepan, screw on the cap and allow to sit over night. In the morning strain out the flowers and pour the flower syrup into sterilised jars, cap and store. 

Due to the high sugar content, it should keep for a few months without going off.

Further Reading

Comment

  1. I have found with all homemade cordials that the addition of some vodka acts as a preservative and keeps the pesky moulds at bay. A quarter gill (scottish measure) will usually more than suffice in a standard 75cl bottle .

  2. Aww what a lovely post Robin showing your appreciation of Nature – especially that of May, my favourite month.
    Must try your hawthorn syrup recipe. Thanks

  3. Lovely post Robin. Yesterday I was admiring the frothy blossoms in the hedgerows. I took many photographs and collected some leaves to mix in with some dandelion and garlic mustard.a herby salad . It was tasty. It doesn’t look like much sugar but can raw honey be used instead?

    Many thanks
    Kameela

  4. Robin, I probably won’t make the recipe, easy though it sounds, because I have diabetes. But I have copied for my future delectation your beautiful post, and will savour it many times, I am sure. Thank you.

  5. Hawthorn, I think thats the bush with prickles, and the flowers become one-pip berries?
    I liked the berries very much. First taste last year.
    If you dip them in lemon and sugar, and spit the pips, they are exactly like weeny avocados.
    It could well be the poetic presentation that makes this recipe sound so attractive, but it’s very easy, I think, so must try it.
    I will leave my faeries in, for extra flavour.
    With the gin? Vodka? Someone here recommended. I’m not an enthusiastic alcoholic person, maybe Bailey’s would be best.
    Be careful, peeps, identifying everything.
    I made a bad Tisane *By Mistake* last year, I won’t say with what, picked in error.
    In case someone copies me.

  6. Beautiful post robin…you took me right there with the lovely hawthorn. Deffo gonna try out the syrup recipe.
    As ever thanks for sharing all your research shananagins and wisdom..

  7. Hawthorn, I think thats the bush with prickles, and the flowers become one-pip berries?
    I liked the berries very much. First taste last year.
    If you dip them in lemon and sugar, and spit the pips, they are exactly like weeny avocados.
    It could well be your poetic presentation that makes this recipe sound so attractive, but it’s very easy, I think, so must try it.
    I will leave my faeries in, for extra flavour.
    With the gin? Vodka? Someone here recommended. I’m not an enthusiastic alcoholic person, maybe Bailey’s would be best.
    Be careful, peeps, identifying everything.
    I made a bad Tisane *By Mistake* last year, I won’t say with what, picked in error.
    In case someone copies me.

  8. An interesting article and also your other one which encapsulated a May Day. I have a large hawthorn next to my gate, planted by a bird forty years ago. How the birds love it! Sadly I’ve never found a fairy in it but I’m sure it and the elder at the other side of the path protect my home and wee garden.

  9. Love this post Robin, and it was so timely. Yesterday I was picking hawthorn blossom, mindful of your post about hawthorn syrup a couple of years ago. I didn’t have time to search out the recipe, so popped the bag in the fridge. Hopefully, they will still be fine for me to make the syrup tomorrow.

  10. Robin, I have been wanting to tell you for a while how much I appreciate your post and your view on forging in general. The wholeness of it makes me smile time and time again.
    I live in the high dessert of Colorado so there are plants we do not have in common but there are Hawthrone’s just getting ready to bloom so I will be trying this recipe. thank you for sharing.

  11. Hi Robin,
    Hawthorns growing on the border of a suburban park near me have quite a lot of pink flowers, as well as white. I’ll try to attach a photo.
    Do you know what causes some of the flowers to be pink?
    Could it be something in the soil?
    Thanks for the lovely essay and recipe!
    Fiona.

  12. Nice post…
    used to eat the leaves on the way home from school – everyone called it bread & cheese for some reason?
    not a massive sugar eater & my wife’s diabetic, pretty much given up the booze too but I’ll have to find something to do with ’em…
    Tea is my first thought – suggestions welcome

  13. We have an unusually large amount of different varieties of hawthorn round here this year. Am making the syrup, trying not to think about my mother’s dire warnings NEVER to bring may indoors. Not sure why; dreadful consequences of some sort. Will let you know if I notice anything….

    • So glad you mentioned this, Angela! I’ve brought some blossoms inside and am now a little worried with everything I’ve read on the internet about bad luck – illness and death!

  14. Robin thank you yet again a lovely post I rushed out and picked some blossom enough for 3ltr jar and put the 3tbs of water in but what if it was a larger amount do you put more water in?
    Stuart

  15. No disasters have followed from bringing the may indoors. Just a bottle of scrumptious syrup. Thank you, Robin, for this and the garlic salt recipe which is also a great success.

  16. I love May in England, we used to dance round the Maypole when I was a child. And I love the hedges of hawthorn blossom. I miss them so as not nearly so many here in North Scotland, so I can’t try your syrup, but will keep the recipe, for you never know when I might strike lucky. I may have to plant a few.

  17. Tried this for the first time day. All the petals went brown by the time the jar came out of the pan. Not sure that’s right? Will wait til morning to find out!

    • That happened to mine.. and there was no liquid.. so I added quite a bit of liquid. It tastes good but the consistency is not syrupy but quite watery. What happened to yours?

  18. Hi Robin,
    Loved the post and picked 250 gr of flowers today.. followed the recipe and as the water began to simmer the flowers turned brown, the consistency of the contents of the jar being very solid. I added quite a bit of water now.. and wonder… is it meant to go brown or have I forgotten to let out a fairy or two..

  19. Beautifully out. I’ve made the syrup exactly as you suggest and it is utterly divine. I personally like it drizzled over thick Greek yoghurt with almonds. But it’s great also with sparkling water, wine or cider!

  20. Beautifully put. I’ve made the syrup exactly as you suggest and it is utterly divine. I personally like it drizzled over thick Greek yoghurt with almonds. But it’s great also with sparkling water, wine or cider!
    What else could this method be used with…elderflower, rose, lemon verbena, pine shoots…?

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