Lime leaves & flowers – sandwiches, scented water and drying (NL:Linden, Tilia)

Yesterday I walked to a local public garden and harvested a carrier bag full of leaf and blossom sprigs from Lime/Linden (Tilia) trees.  These trees smell great at the moment. Whole neighbourhoods are perfumed by Lime flowers, loaded with nectar to attract hoards of bees.

If you pluck clean a clean lime flower from a tree in a safe location, you may like to eat it directly. They taste sweet and aromatic with a hint of bitter tannin. The aroma which will fill your mouth, nose and mind is uniquely delicious and has been highly prized, by many cultures, for centuries.  Lime flowers will quickly release a little glutinous, sweet mucilage as you chew.  More details about properties of this amazing tree in the main post on Lime.

So with limited space and time…
How to dry tree leaves and flowers.

  1. Once home, lay out the harvest on a light surface and discard any rough, diseased or otherwise unhealthy looking leaves, flowers or sprigs.
  2. Allow time for bugs to escape and find them a new home if they seem lost.
  3. My harvest was partly covered in a dried black film – originating from greenfly droppings in the canopy – so I then used scissors to separate the flowers from the leaves.  99% of the flowers were unaffected.
  4. Gently but thoroughly wash any dirt or film from the leaves, using cold water.  If you wash the flowers you will loose the valuable nectar and pollen.
    (It was very difficult to remove the black film from some parts so I discarded these and added them to my balcony pots as a mulch)
  5. Dry the leaves with a clean tea towel or muslin.
  6. Lay out the leaves and flowers separately to dry, on clean paper, cloths or trays.
    (I spread my harvest out on my dining room table, with a clean, absorbent, cotton table cloth beneath.  The room used needs to be well ventilated and fairly warm to facilitate good drying)
    This could be done in a very cool oven, I prefer to save electricity and let time do the drying.
  7. Turn the harvest from time to time to allow all surfaces to dry.
  8. If necessary, when the herbs feel dry to touch, move them to a more convenient drying area.
  9. Keep checking and shifting the herbs around to facilitate drying, for as long as it takes them to become completely brittle.
    (The flowers will dry much more quickly than the leaves, which could take 3 weeks)
  10. Inspect again for mould, unhealthy looking herbs.
  11. Store in glass airtight containers.Uses:
    Lots of information is given in the main Lime post but here are couple of others…

    • I couldn’t wait to use some of my harvest so I made Lime leaf, blossom and Amsterdam honey sandwiches for lunch.
    • I also added a few flowers to my cold water bottle this morning.  The water tasted and smelt very fragrant after about an hour.  It tasted far better than any shop bought, flavoured water and had the added benefit of a few cooling, gooey flowers to chew on during my 30 degree Dutch class.  The flowers would also look very pretty in a decanter of dinner table water.
    • Lime is magical – if you have the chance, give it a try!