Hawthorns are such a beautiful spring flower. I love them almost as much as I love cherry blossoms, but there’s something of the fleeting nature of cherry blossoms that make them that much more magical. Hawthorn blossoms are beautiful too, albeit much smaller, and they do hang around for a little longer, which is an added bonus when making the deliciously woody hawthorn blossom vodka.
While many people make hawthorn jelly or even hawthorn vinegar, I wanted to try a hawthorn liquor from the beautiful flowers.
Harvesting hawthorns is a labour of love. On a windy day you’ll find most of your blossoms blown away, so I find having one person holding a bag under them, and the other agitating the leaves is the best way to harvest the tiny leaves without incurring too many losses.
In ancient lore hawthorns are the most magical of trees, and you’re supposed to ask the tree’s permission before you harvest her blossoms- just letting you know as I’d hate for you to be chased down the hill by an angry Hawthorn fae!
Scientifically speaking, hawthorns contain healthy flavonoids and studies indicate that they MAY help protect against heart disease, lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol 1) https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/hawthorn-uses-and-risks#1. But of course, more studies are needed on the effect in humans. Personally I find spending an hour collecting a couple of cups of blossoms reduces my blood pressure and my stress levels, and when it’s time shared with a loved one, increases general feelings of happiness too… but I’m not claiming there’s a direct relation to the hawthorn blossoms there 😉 However, in all seriousness, they do have a long and interesting history in natural and herbal remedies [2. https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/hawthorn-herbal-remedies.htm]. Hawthorn has also historically been associated with the emotional heart, to help release the pain of grief or heartbreak
I try to make sure any gathered insects have a chance to escape my bag before I get home, and I’ll put the blossoms in a colander and give it a shake before adding them as is to the vodka, so I only pick from higher up branches where they won’t have met with too many dogs or foxes or anyone else who might want to share body fluids with a tree.
My partner enjoys hawthorn blossom vodka straight as a nightcap, I like it thinned out with a little bit of sparkly water, and while we’ve almost finished our whole bottle over the spring, I think it’s woody-flavour makes it ideal for the cooler winter evenings too.
I think flavours like vanilla and cardamom would suit this vodka, if you were inclined to infuse anything with it, but we do love the raw woody flavour of it just as it comes.
- 2 cups of Hawthorn Blossom (roughly, it doesn't have to be precise)
- 1 litre Vodka (I went for a cheap vodka)
- 1 - 3 teaspoons Caster Sugar
- Pick the blossoms on a dry morning, ideally.
- Pull the blossoms from the stalks and add them to a fliptop bottle or a sealable jar.
- Add the caster sugar to taste - I don't like sugar much, but add more to taste if you need to.
- Pour over the vodka and leave in a dark place, where you won't forget to shake it a couple of times a day. It doesn't have to be a vigorous shake - just enough to stir up the petals a little.
- The petals will go brown, over time, but that's fine.
- Leave for about 2 to 3 weeks, then strain out the petals (I like to filter through a muslin, then through a coffe filter) and your flavoured vodka is ready to drink.
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