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This is one of my favourite springtime plants. Please do listen to the audio as I love its flavour and use not only in my drinks but many different items.

GeorgeFlavour Fred
When dried it contains a chemical called Coumarin which has a sweet smell and tastes like vanilla, cinnamon, and newly mown hay. It is used as a flavouring for sweet and savoury dishes and you’ll find it in cassia bark, tonka beans and much more. As you need to dry the plant to get the flavours it’s a great dry store item to use all year round but I still only use a sprig at a time.

Coumarin as a compound has been surrounded by toxicity questions following tests on rats in the 1950s here’s a great article debunking it when used and prepared appropriately along with the science & reality behind it from @monicawilde 🙌🙌.

Is sweet woodruff poisonous?

The main caution with this plant as if it is not dried quickly can produce dicoumarol which has blood thinning properties and in seriously excessive amounts it can dangerous. (Much more detailed explanation) in the wonderful article.

In Germany it is known as “Waldmeister” which means woodsman (& woodruff) and that is because it’s found in woods and also is an ancient woodland indicating plant. This is a very helpful tool when planning locations to come back to for fungi foraging. You can buy it and grow in the garden but the flavour profile is much more grassy and not as potent (in my experience).

Drinks, wines (“Maibowle” – Maycup / May wine), cakes, creams and more are infused with this lovely flavour and some may also have seen it dropped into a Berliner Weisse at this time of year.

The Polish Zabrowka vodka is flavoured with bison grass which contains the same compound. Therefore you can use Sweet Woodruff in the same way and you only need a sprig as it’s so potent.

Also into a special drink for the Cézanne exhibition with @squarerootldn @tate


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