Gorse is great for foragers as it flowers all year round
Common gorse (Ulex europeaus) is a hardy evergreen shrub which grows to around 1.5 metres high by 1.5 metres wide. It is a member of the Legume family, a nitrogen fixing plant which is commonly known as whin here in Scotland.
The bright yellow flowers, which smell deliciously of coconut, are edible raw and tasty. They can be pickled to be used like capers. Just picking and eating the flowers on a long walk through the hills is a lovely treat. However, do not eat the flowers in large quantities as they contain slightly toxic alkaloids. The long pods and dark seeds are not edible either raw or cooked.
As with broom flowers, you can make a lovely, fragrant wine or use to flavour custards
- Put 275ml of milk (oat milk is the healthy, sustainable option) in a saucepan and add 6 tablespoons of flowers.
- Bring to a gentle simmer on low heat.
- Take from the heat and allow to infuse for at least an hour or two.
- Strain the liquid off the flowers and throw the flowers onto the compost.
- Heat the oven to 200°C.
- Melt 25g butter (vegetable spread is the sustainable option) in a saucepan on a moderate heat.
- Stir in 2 tablespoon cornflour and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the infused milk and keep stirring until you have a smooth thick sauce.
- Take the pan off the heat and beat in 3 egg yolks, one at a time.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of honey and 50g ground nuts.
- Divide the mixture between four individual ramekins and bake for 20 minutes so that they are set and the tops are golden brown.
- Serve hot.
If you are going to forage, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful