Sometimes certain flowers shout out at you, or at least they seem to. For me, these often aren’t the large, blousey ones in neon shades of shocking colours, they are the little ones, the ones often walked past, overlooked as “weeds” and pulled out of lawns. These are the wild ones, which have evolved perfectly to their surroundings, growing out of cracks and corners, untamed and untampered with. They are full of folklore, old wives tales, medicine and magic.
Theses last few days I have been noticing the pink blossoms of red clover poking their heads out of roadside verges, nodding in the breeze, waving at me as I drive past them in my car. So when I found myself in the middle of a meadow, surrounded by swathes of clover flowers it seemed like the perfect thing to pick a few.
Both the leaves and the blossoms are edible, I like to sprinkle the flowers on top of salads, rice and cous cous, for a pretty peppering of pink nectar rich decoration.
Gather on a dry, sunny day and pick ones which haven’t gone brown at the bottom. Also try not to gather ones which are nurturing tiny insect larvae in a little ‘cuckoo’s spit’ frothy wet blob at the base of the bloom. As you pick you will notice how many other creatures are feeding on them so make sure you leave plenty for the bees!
As well as having a delightful honey flavour, red clover flowers also work as a skin cleanser and help to balance oestrogen, so are very good for the menopause.
This year I made a small batch of red clover lemonade, a delicate, floral drink which came out a glorious colour. Here’s my recipe:
Red Clover Lemonade
This makes a cordial style drink which needs to be diluted.
A few good handfuls of red clover flowers
Pour boiling water over the blossoms, enough to cover them. Leave to stand overnight, ensuring blooms are submerged under water (this will stop them from oxidising and turning brown)
Strain and add lemons and zest, I used three for a good lemony flavour.
for each litre of water add 800g of sugar. Dissolve, bring to the boil and if you want it to keep pour into hot sterilised bottles, otherwise just make sure you keep it in the fridge.
Dilute with sparkling water and a slice of lemon!