"The heather is a splendid carpet, flowers crowd for miles around. Hurry, come! In a few years the heath a grainfield will be." H.C. Andersen was wrong: the heath has survived. There are also many forces at work ensuring that it doesn’t turn into forest either, and that you can still forage in this wonderful landscape.
Where to Find It
You'll find heather in open heaths and other expanses where the sun beats down and inhibits most other kinds of plant life, and where the soil is acidic and somewhat exhausted. Raised bogs, edges of woods, and pastures are good places to look for heather. It's especially common on Jutland’s heaths.
When to Find it
Heather blooms from the end of August until September.
Flowers: August, September.
How to Spot It
Heather is a small, evergreen bush that blooms with clusters of white, violet, or dark red flowers that look like tiny pots. When in bloom, the plant spread a very special scent of warm spices over the heath. It has a woody stem that grows a couple of centimeters thick, and side shoots that are short and studded with tiny dark-green leaves with mosaic patterns. The heather plant rarely grows taller than half a meter.
How to Pick It
As a forager you'll be interested in the flowers, which grow densely on the branches at the end of summer and can be pulled off by hand.
On the palate
Heather flowers have a spiced flavor with notes of thyme and topsoil.
Heather has a fine, spicy scent.
You can gently pull the newly sprouted flowers off the branch with your fingers, then sort out any obviously damaged specimens.
You can make a heather liqueur by pouring schnapps or vodka over the flowers, letting the mixture sit for 14 days, and then straining. Use whole branches to smoke fish or meat. You can also add heather to venison stock to flavor it with a hint of the heath.
Cover the flowers with a moist cloth and store in a sealed bag or airtight container inside the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. It's best to use them as quickly as possible, but they will normally keep for three to five days.
No equivalent substitutions.
Risk of misidentifying the plant