Summer Solstice is upon us - as we celebrate the longest day, and all of nature is at it's most abundant. The beauty of the Forest School model is that each season offers up different gifts to work with. For me this time of the year is about flowers; a chance to learn about their relationship to fruit and bee; to enjoy the beauty and joy they bring and to explore eating them!
After many years working as a Dietitian, it is very natural for me to incorporate cooking and tasting into all of my work - be it in the school garden or woodland. Giving children new taste experiences is a wonderful thing and most children find it hugely exciting, if sometimes challenging!
There are many edible flowers but the ones I choose to focus on are those that are most abundant in nature at this time of year - elderflowers, rose and honeysuckle.
Here are the 4 different ways I work with them:
Floral tea: Simply add boiling water to the clean petals, and perhaps something to sweeten - sugar, or honey. The water can be heated over a fire or in a Kelly Kettle, or just brought in a flask
Elderflower cordial: Easy to make with the children - starting with picking flowers from the hedgerows, then the process of grating lemons and squeezing them, and spooning in the sugar and citric acid, before finally adding the boiling water. The cordial will be ready in time to bring back the following week for a refreshing summer drink.
Elderflower fritters: How exciting to be able to eat whole flowers and so delicious! Great for a day when you are introducing fire skills. A chance for children to mix up the batter; cooking is always a winning activity to do with children I find - they love it! Then everyone can dip their own flower ion batter and watch it cook.
Crystallised flower petals: Roses work especially well - the more scented the better. I make an egg yolk substitute from flax seed, which the children paint on the petals. Then they are coated in fine sugar and left to crisp. Delicious and beautiful to look at!
So happy Solstice and enjoy the long summer days with your children while they are with us!