Friday, 7 May 2010

Sweet Woodruff

Woodruff in blossom

I have this growing in my garden. It obviously likes where it is because it seems to have colonised. This is the plant that I didn't know what it was last year. Since then I have been reading up a little bit on what I can do with this pretty plant and the following is one I intend to have a go at. Its from the Countryside Cookbook by Gail Duff ISBN 07221 3079 1. The Woodruff should give the ice cream a nutty vanilla like flavour.

Woodruff Ice Cream

1 pint thick cream
6 spriggs Woodruff
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons honey

Put the cream into a saucepan with the Woodruff.
Cover it and set it on a very low heat until it just comes to boiling point. This will take about 15 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and strain the cream. Whisk the egg yolks with the honey until they are frothy then whisk in the cream in a steady stream. (It is suggested to use an electric whisk to achieve this). Whisk the mixture to a light froth put into a freezing tray or bowl and put into the coldest part of the freezer or in a freezer compartment. Freeze the ice cream to a slush at least 2 to 3 hours. Take it out and whisk it again. Freeze it completely. Take out the ice cream and leave it for 45 minutes. Either serve immediately or put into plastic containers for storing in the freezer. Will keep for about three months.

Serves approximately 6

Probably one of the best known uses for Woodruff is in a Maibowle/German Wine Cup. I haven't tried this but it sounds promising. The recipe comes from A Country Harvest by Pamela Michael ISBN 1-85052-070

1 small bunch Woodruff

1 bottle Moselle or Rhine Wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 pint water

1 orange

Remove any damaged withered leaves from the Wodruff and put the whole bunch including any stems and the flowers into a punch bowl or tall glass jug. Pour over the wine. Gently heat the sugar and water in a small pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool a little then stir into the bowl of wine. Cover closely with a plate or sheet of foil and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or longer. Before serving peel the orange and slice the flesh thinly add the orange slices to the punch - you can take out the Woodruff at this stage if so wished or leave it in to let your guests see where the flavour comes from.

To dry the Woodruff:
Bunch together several stems of the Sweet Woodruff and then tie with string forming litle faggots as below.

Hang a double string somewhere practical and accessible I use my dressers and have used pink clothes pegs here as I could not locate my wooden ones for a more natural look. It not only serves a practical purpose but also gives a different decoration to pretty your room up whilst the chosen material/herb is drying.

Or Hang up a few stems (in bunches) in a warm room such as the boiler room or an airing cupboard or from a ceiling airer until dry and crisp. Crumble the mixture when dry and store in a screw topped jar.

I must say they do have a lovely scent and have freshened up my dining room where they are hanging already.

Woodruff Sweet bags

Only small amounts of dried Woodruff are needed to fill little muslin bags which are lovely to put with your undies or in the linen cupboard as you would lavender bags.
Or a tea can be made from dried Woodruff and the dried leaves crumbled and stored in a jar.

To make sweet washing water for the face:

Infuse half an ounce of bruised Woodruff leaves in 1 pint of boiling water until cool.

Strain. Store in a bottle in the fridge carefully marked until ready to use.

Wash the face with the infusion and let it dry on your face (I poured a little into a small bowl and then used cotton wool to wipe/wash the face with the infusion). This can be made all year round as it is only the leaves that are used.


  1. I've got sweet woodruff in my garden too but have never done anything with it. The wine cup sounds nice, I only knew that of it as a strewing herb, didn't realise that one can cook with it. I've got Gail Duff's book, must get it out and have a look through it.

  2. Is it the leaves and the flowers you dry for muslin bags?

    By the way, the Edible Garden book is wonderful.
    I am inspired, though a little daunted!

  3. Yes Jackie.

    Woodruff has quite a heady scent when growing in the garden this is down to a chemical produced in the plant known as "Coumarin". It has been used in the manufacture of perfumes as it is a natural fixative (it fixes other scents) and was used to fix pot pourris. The dried flowers and leaves were also used to scent linen stuff mattresses and also used to be hung up in bunches and garlands used to sweeten the air in the house.

    I hope this helps



Thank you for popping by. I love to receive comments and to make new friends so please say Hi. Pattypan

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)