Over the past 12 years we have picked, plucked, rooted, rummaged and catalogued so many ingredients it is becoming increasingly difficult to remember them all and this is why we created our Wild Flavour Archive (or Wall of Weird as Rupert likes to call it) at our 'distillery' home in East Lothian.
As well as offering you all the chance to come and see it for yourselves at our distillery tours (now open for booking HERE) we thought we would also share our findings through seasonal blog posts, shining a spotlight on our favourite and most interesting ingredients.
So, drum roll please.... we proudly present the spicy, the aromatic, the delicious - hogweed seed!
What it is:
Not to be confused with it giant cousin the 'Giant Hogweed' (H. mantegazzianum), Hogweed seed (Heracleum sphondylium) is the seed of the common hogweed plant. Found in mid-to-late summer, its a super abundant, massively overlooked native spice. Not so overlooked abroad; its very similar cousin is sold as golpar in the spice markets of Persia.
Crushed between the fingers, the seeds give off the heady scent of fresh orange peel but are spicier on the palate, not dissimilar to ginger or cloves. Fantastic savoury, herbal hit in cocktails, bitters and vermouths.
Why it’s on the Wall:
It’s just such a massive flavour and really easy to find and stock up on. Its exotic, warm, comforting and just really really aromatic and tasty. Fresh it has a big mouthfeel too. Slightly numbing on the tongue and zesty. It’s a big area of discovery and unlocked potential and that’s just too tempting to overlook for much longer. Watch this space.
The Story So Far:
Like many of these things, Chief Forager Rupert’s first memory of it comes from hanging out with Mark Williams at Galloway Wild Foods - “The first time I met Mark he was handing out this incredible cake which I now know as hogweed seed parkin. It was one of those moments where you think...blooming heck, if something that tasty can be all around and literally right under your nose and be missed...what other wonders are there out there hiding in plain sight?”
Inspired by Mark’s recipe we still make hogweed seed parkin cake and it could be used interchangeably with ginger maybe in other baking recipes. In Persia, its similarly flavoured cousin spice golpar is used sprinkled on potatoes, vegetables and as an interesting bonus it is said to reduce flatulence!
We’ve been picking loads of them in their unripe green state as well as filling up huge amounts of the usual dried ones. To gather it, make sure you have your eye in on the ID, pick them before the wind blows them all away and dry them thoroughly before storing them whole in airtight jars. These can be ground to order to put into parkin or experimented with further.
More recently, we’ve been exploring its utility in the manufacture of alcoholic drinks (of course!) and how the two might intersect. Already used as a spice in our award winning Aelder Elixir elderberry liqueur we have also been experimenting with using it in cocktails and other spirits for its fantastic orange peel qualities and bitter spice with lots of exciting and delicious drinks coming out soon!
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