Fireweed is one of my favorite wild plants. It’s one of the first plants to shoot after the long and harsh Nordic winter and it sticks around all the way to autumn.
When it’s small and tender, fireweed shoots can be used just like asparagus, fried in a pan or grilled or, why not, as a filling to a delicious focaccia. What about when the plant grows, though? Fireweed keeps on being edible! The leaves can be dried and used as herbal tea or apparently they can even be fermented to become a proper tea, minus the caffeine. This is an ancient Russian tradition and one of my next projects by the way, it sounds too interesting not to investigate!
What about fireweed flowers? They too are edible! You could use them to decorate cakes and summer salads, freeze them in ice cubes for your summer drinks or, my favorite way, you can make a wonderfully floral syrup out of it!
If you’ve ever made lilac syrup, it tastes slightly the same, but with an advantage in my opinion: you don’t have to cheat by adding some coloring or blueberries to get that beautiful purple color! All you need to do is add a little lemon juice to make the syrup slightly acidic, and that will bring back the beautiful, vibrant color of these wild flowers.
Fireweed can be found in many parts of the earth, so it should be accessible to many of you. If you want to store the fireweed syrup for longer than a few weeks, you could freeze it up in ice cubes molds for example and thaw it when you need it.
For an easy and perfect summer mocktail, fill a tumbler with ice (preferably floral ice cubes), add 1 tbsp of fireweed syrup, 1 tbsp of lime or grapefruit juice and top with sparkling water.
- 250 ml water
- 250 g granulated sugar
- 1 handful fireweed flowers
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Make sure that the fireweed flowers are clean and don’t have any bugs in them.
- Place the water, the sugar and the flowers in a saucepan and bring to mix, stirring occasionally.
- Let the syrup boil for a few minutes, turn the heat off, add the lemon juice and cover the saucepan with a lid.
- Let the fireweed syrup steep for at least 12 hours, after which you can filter it and bottle it up.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.