Rowan is a tree that keeps on surprising. Not only does it produce berries that are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but I recently discovered how the buds and flowers of this plant have a lovely almond flavor. Needless to say, I saw a great potential in this simple, so readily available and abundant ingredient here in the North. The odds were in my favor as we recently had to chop a rowan tree from our garden, since it was too close to our house, hence I had a chance to forage big quantities of rowan buds and experiment with them.
When to collect
Depending on where you live, rowan starts to bud in early spring (which in northern Finland means mid-May) and it blooms in the summer. It’s important to collect the buds at an early stage, before the leaves are open for the best taste and less bitterness.
How to store
Store fresh buds and flowers in the refrigerator for a few days, freeze them to preserve them for a few months or soak them in alcohol or syrup.
How to use
Rowan buds taste like bitter almonds, especially if steeped in a liquid or baked, so I’d suggest to use them in anything where you would want to add an almond twist, like cheesecakes, panna cottas, biscuits and cakes, teas or hot chocolates, sky’s the limit!
As I experimented with rowan buds, I noticed how their taste got even more bitter if boiled, so I suggested steeping the buds at a temperature slightly slower than 100ºC for a smooth and sweet almond flavor.
Rowan Bud Syrup
- 1 part* of rowan buds
- 2 parts* of cold water
- 2 parts* of sugar
- Rinse the buds and place them in a saucepan.
- Cover the buds with water, add the sugar and heat the syrup to almost a boiling point, but do not let it boil. The most important thing is that the syrup reaches at least 70º C, but stays below the boiling point.
- Let the syrup cool completely, strain it** and funnel it into bottles.