My Elderberry wine foraged booze

Foraged Booze

Now, I love the free stuff that I can find and collect and eat, and I quite like alcohol too; So to be able to combine the two is brilliant, hence foraged booze.

I’ve had a go at making Elderflower Champagne, Sloe Gin, and Elderberry Vodka in the past, so when an opportunity came to go on a walk with Andy Hamilton, the foraging booze king, how could I not?

I arrived early and spent a little time practicing my plant and tree recognition skills.

Andy arrived nice and early, and it turns out that he’s every bit as entertaining and charming as he is in his videos. After everyone else arrived we got started with a round of Elderflower Champagne from Andy’s bag of treats. What a lovely start.

The walk continued much the same way. It was a friendly group and I enjoyed chatting to everyone on the way around. The treats continued, and Andy provided information and advice, as well as many more tipples.

I brought my own along too. The Linden Blossom Tea mixed with Spiced Rum went down quite well.

We finished the walk sheltering from a little rain in a copse of trees, where Andy shared his final tipple and information. This one was a little unusual, in that it had blended crickets in it! None of us guessed the secret ingredient.

Foraged Booze Summary

Overall, a really nice experience. One of the things I liked the most about Andy, is that if any of us asked what one might do with a foraged ingredient in booze, that he hadn’t done already, Andy has ideas of what might be done.

I’m looking forward to the next one…


Thanks to Andy Hamilton of

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Himalayan Balsam – Invasive Pest or Tasty Food?


I was out for a walk around the Lee Valley last night, particularly looking out for Elderberries and Yarrow for some home-brewing projects I have planned. I found what I needed, but I could help also noticing the huge amounts of pink flowering Himalayan Balsam along the river’s edge just about everywhere.

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam

Whilst it looks very pretty, it’s a controversial plant as it’s the invasive immigrant, Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). It is highly invasive, and tends to choke up rivers quite quickly.

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam

It does this with an amazing seed spreading system, which involves the seed heads ‘exploding’ and flinging the seeds up to seven feet away.

Exploding Himalayan Balsam Seed Head

Exploding Seed Head

However, there is a positive aspect to this plant. Most of it is edible, and being in such abundance and widely hated, there is no reason not to collect some (carefully) and cook it up!

Himalayan Balsam Recipes

A quick internet search for “Himalayan Balsam Recipes” will turn up plenty of results for you. I won’t copy them here (unless it’s to review them after I’ve given it a try), but some of the things I’ve seen include:

  • Champagne (Flowers)
  • Wine (Flowers)
  • Curry (Seeds)
  • Using the stem as a straw for drinks
  • Preserve (Flowers)
  • Falafel (Seeds)

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