WHB #50: Heather In The Kitchen

We were fortunate enough to have a couple of weekends away recently, one to the North Yorkshire Moors, and one to a small town called Moffat in Scotland. Both places shared hills, forests, and field after field of purple Heather.

Wild Scottish Heather

As always, this abundance of Heather got me thinking – “Can I eat it”? Surely it’s not so infeasible. Heather honey is for sale in supermarkets everywhere, and Wild Game (such as Grouse) enjoy Heather as the main part of their diet.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since our trip, and that’s given me time to search around for a few of the most interesting ideas for using Heather in the kitchen, a couple of which I’ve posted below as part of my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #50, which this week is hosted by The Kitchen Pantry (usually by Kalyn’s Kitchen).
Of course, if anybody else has any culinary concoctions for Heather, feel free to post them here!

Heather Tea

There were a few different recipes for Heather Tea floating around ranging from the very difficult, to the very simple. I’ve come up with one somewhere in between, which still manages to capture the fragrant taste of fresh Heather.

  1. Pick fresh Heather, cutting away any woody stem, and leave overnight.
  2. Cut up the Heather finely, then puree (as much as possible) in a blender.
  3. Leave to ferment for 3 hours in a cool place.
  4. Dry in an oven at a low heat (100 degrees c / 210 degrees f).

This dried tea can then be used either as is (use a strainer), or mixed with ordinary tea for a more fuller flavoured drink.

Heather Wine

  • 700 grams (25 oz) Heather (flowers and thin stalk only, disregard any lower woody bits)
  • 1kg (35.3 oz) Castor Sugar
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • 10 ml (0.35 fl. oz) Dried Bakers Yeast

Place Heather in 2 litres of water along with the juice, and boil for 1 hour. Pour liquid with sugar into a seperate measuring container, pouring extra water to increase volume back to 2 litres, and stir thoroughly.

Prepare yeast with a little warm water and allow to ferment. Add to the Heather mixture created above, and leave covered somewhere dark for 2 weeks before transferring to a demijohn. The wine is ready when fermentation stops (no more bubbling), which is when you can strain and bottle the wine.

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