Woodruff, or Galium odoratum to give it its botanical name, is a pretty little plant which can be found growing in beech woodland. It forms dense mats, and so is a good ground cover for gardens, looking very fresh and lovely when it flowers in the middle of May.
Fresh, the plant has a mildly pleasant smell.
BUT… when you dry it for a few days, it gives off a powerful aroma of almonds and maraschino cherries, and as such it is the key ingredient for Maibowle, or Bowl of May, a traditional German punch to celebrate the coming of the summer.
To dry the woodruff: pick a small bunch of about 9 stems, tie some string around them and hang up in an airy place for a few days.
- Woodruff, a small bunch
- Strawberries, sliced
- A bottle of sweet German wine
- A bottle of sparkling white wine, ideally Sekt
You will also need a large glass bowl.
- Pour the sweet white wine into the bowl, add the strawberries and the woodruff, and steep for about an hour.
- Add the sparkling wine and stir gently.
- Ladle into glasses, say Prost! and welcome in the summer.
A word of caution: two glasses is delightful, but don’t overdo it.