One of the iconic scents of summer is the sweet and spicy honey smell of meadowsweet flowers wafting across grasslands and along roadsides. Filipendula ulmaria, meadowsweet, is a tall plant with a foam of white flowers blooming in the summer months in wet meadows and ditches all along our countryside.
The plant, like cassia cinnamon, tonka bean, bison grass, sweetgrass, and woodruff, contains beautifully scented coumarin. This, added to the sweet floral honey scent of the flowers and a medicinally astringent hit of salicylic acid, gives meadowsweet a unique and enchanting scent and flavour profile. I love infusing the flowers over night in warm -but not boiling- sugar syrup, cream, or milk to capture this lovely flavour in ice-cream, truffles, custards, whipped cream, drinks, or syrup soaked cakes. Pick carefully only the open and fragrant flower tufts and leave the little round buds to open later. As with elderflower, a little goes a long way, since their scent is strong. And as with elderflower (which has toxic stems), avoid getting too much of the stems or leaves into your infusions, to capture the floral rather than the bitter/medicinal flavours.
Look out for meadowsweet in bloom this time of year, or come along and taste it in foraged foods and drinks during one of my wild food courses.