Words by Abi Himan

You've probably walked past this creamy white wonder plant a thousand times without even realising. This plant is rife across Europe throughout the summer, with it's delicate clouds of flowers growing wild and filling the countryside air with their faint honey-like scent.

It screams summertime, but there's a lot more to this one than initially meets the eye. For centuries, people have turned to meadowsweet as a natural aid for everything from pain relief, indigestion, cuts and sores, UTIs, headaches - I could go on.

The power in meadowsweet lies in its high levels of salicylic acid, which in the 19th century was isolated from the plant leading to the later creation of aspirin - in fact, the word 'aspirin' is derived from Meadowsweet’s Latin name Spiraea - pull that one out when you want to impress your pals!


It grows like crazy all across the UK during all summer long. It likes things a bit damp under foot, so it's usually found hanging out along streams, in ditches, damp meadows and riverbanks.


Meadowsweet has fluffy white flower heads and dark green leaves divided into pairs of leaflets. It has a very delicate sweet scent, and is best picked early in the morning as bugs will be attracted to it as the day gets warmer. It usually grows in clusters and will be near other wild flowers.
You can simply steep it in hot water and drink it as a tea, but if you've got a sweet tooth then we can't recommend our cordial recipe enough.
Here's what you'll need:
- about 50 heads of meadowsweet (his sounds a lot, but it's not too bad - essentially a large bunch)
- 500g sugar
- 2 lemons
- 2 litres of boiling water
Firstly you'll want to prepare your meadowsweet.  I always recommend popping foraged flowers in a carrier bag after picking and leaving it in the fridge for a few hours. This will send any bugs to sleep, then you can give the bag a little shake and they'll drop to the bottom of the bag, meaning you can take your flowers out bug free and let the bugs back outside. Strip the flowers, removing the stems and leaves (you won't need these for this recipe, but if you want to use them up, warm them up with high quality coconut oil to make an antiseptic balm, great for insect bites, chapped skin and helping to heal small scratches).
In a large saucepan, dissolve in half of the sugar in and your boiling water and add the juice of your two lemons. Allow to cool before adding your flowers, and bring to a gentle simmer. As soon as it reaches a simmer, take off the heat and give it a stir, then cover with a clean towel and leave to steep overnight. 
On the following day strain out the flowers with a muslin or cheese cloth, and add the other half of the sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Voila, once cooled your cordial is ready! Serve with icy water (or in a G&T) for some sweet summery refreshment (and to cure what ails ya!)
It is best stored in sterilised glass bottles, and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
PSA: It does genuinely work like aspirin, so if you're allergic or sensitive to aspirin, or on warfarin then give this one a miss.

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