As some of you may have noticed, I love all things gorse. I am completely obsessed with the smell, taken in by the vivid colours and fascinated with it’s place in Ireland’s past.
Also known as Whin or Furze, this glorious shrub is found all over Ireland. The iconic yellow flowers really show themselves from March onwards, and carry a distinctive coconut and vanilla scent, quite unlike anything around it. Many people note that the scent reminds them of sun cream and brings them right back to childhood memories of summer holidays! The shrub itself used to be used by bakers to heat up their ovens, as it burns so hot and leaves very few ashes. The flowers were also used to dye eggs yellow for Easter.
Picking the stuff can be a nightmare! The petals are surrounded by very long, hard, sharp thorns and the branches are super springy. This means, when you pull a bunch of petals away the branch springs back then forwards with all the thorns gunning for you. It is worth it, as the syrup (recipe below) is gorgeous and you can just drop some petals into a gin & tonic for a visual feast.
To make the syrup, it is pretty simple;
5 large hand fulls of gorse (best picked in the morning, just as the sun hits them).
250g of caster sugar.
700ml of water.
Juice from one lemon and zest of one orange.
Bring the water to the boil and add the sugar, keep on a rolling boil for about 10 minutes to create the syrup.
Remove from the heat and add the gorse, lemon juice and orange zest – leave for at least 12 hours.
Once ready, strain through a muslin cloth ( I used an old piece of linen) to pour into a sterilised bottle or jar.
Best to be kept in a fridge.
It tastes great with a measure of Method and Madness gin, slice of lime and tonic water.
Enjoy folks and stay safe out there.