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May Liqueur

VegetarianVeganDairy FreeGluten Free

The flowers of the hawthorn, known in rural parts of the country as ‘May blossom’, were traditionally steeped in brandy to infuse the alcohol with a rich, almondy flavour. In her 1932 book Flowers as Food, English cookery writer Florence White collected regional local recipes for May Liqueur, commenting that in her opinion it was ‘better than the best cherry brandy’. If you’re patient enough to wait the six weeks required for it to mature, you can see whether you agree with her.

Ideally, gather the flowers on a dry sunny day. Choose blossoms that have just opened as well as some buds that are still closed – flowers that are dropping petals or starting to turn brown at the edges will have lost much of their fragrance and flavour.

Makes : 750ml
Prep : 10 minutes, plus 6 weeks steeping
Cook :
  • Enough hawthorn blossoms to fill a 750ml jar
  • 750ml good quality brandy
  • 1–3 tablespoons honey or sugar, or to taste


  1. Shake the flowers to get rid of any insects, then pick them with as little stem as possible. Loosely fill a sterilised 750ml preserving jar with the blossoms (make sure you don’t include any leaves).
  2. Pour in the brandy and use a sterilised spoon to push them down into the liquid to ensure they stay submerged. Put on the lid of the jar and leave to infuse for 6 weeks, shaking now and then.
  3. When the 6 weeks are up, strain the liquid into a sterilised jug and discard the flowers.
  4. Pour out a little of the liquid and taste to see whether you need to add any honey or sugar. Mix well, pour into a sterilised bottle, and store in a cool, dark place. Left unopened, the liqueur should keep for up to 2 years.


Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK


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