I knew Sweet Woodruff as a woodland wildflower long before I discovered it as an herb. My mother had a very shady yard during her gardening days back in the eighties. The canopy of tall oaks in her yard precluded any sunny garden so she learned all she could about planting in the shade. This led her to wildflowers and soon her shady garden took shape and sweet woodruff was one of the stars.
It is an easy -to - grow ground cover and she used it to fill places where nothing else would grow. It spreads slowly and politely stays put, unlike other more aggressive plants. It blooms in May with tiny white flowers covering an attractively leafed plant.
It wasn't long before I coveted it and my mother, always willing to divide and share, gave me a piece of woodruff. It still grows in my yard.
When I visited Germany in 1986, I was introduced to May Wine, or Mai Bowle, a favorite beverage served mostly in spring. Sweet Woodruff is added to young white wine to improve it's flavor. It is usually served with strawberries and is easy to make. Since the dried leaves work well for this recipe, it can be made all year and makes a lovely punch bowl beverage.
1 bottle of white wine
1 bottle of sparkling wine (champagne)
1/4 cup of dried sweet woodruff (fresh leaves can be used but, unlike most herbs, woodruff has more flavor and aroma when dried)
6 tablespoons of sugar
Add the woodruff to the bottle of white wine and steep overnight or longer, if desired. When ready to serve, strain out the spent leaves, add sugar and sparkling wine. Serve over ice and strawberries with a sprig of fresh sweet woodruff.
Today's Take-Away - Consider Sweet Woodruff for your shady or herb garden. Then make some May Wine.