Strawberry pineapple-weed liqueur

Or 'how to lure non-foragers over to the dark side'

Posted by Carolyn Dugas on August 14, 2021 · 6 minute read

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Strawberry Pineapple-weed Liqueur

Strawberry pineapple-weed liqueur next to a strawberry plant
Freshly bottled strawberry pineapple-weed liqueur, parked beside a strawberry plant

Like most weeds, pineapple-weed Matricaria discoidea suffers from a terrible PR problem. Despite its naturally sweet flavor which loiters at the crossroads of pineapple and chamomile, it is left to perish, unloved, at the edges of lawns and parking lots.

Its unusual appearance might be to blame. The flowerheads look like they've had a bad run-in with the hair clippers, left to hide their patchy haircut beneath a yellow cap - no petals in sight. Regardless of the origin of their disrepute, they remain one of the most underappreciated and accessible flavors of the wild.

Pineapple-weed Pineapple-weed hiding its shoddy haircut

Although many folks are hesitant about wild foods, most take to pineapple-weed like a duck to breadcrumbs. I've seen many a face light up with joy after nibbling on the sweet flowerheads. This is one weed that fights the stereotype that wild flavors are unappealing to the conventional palate.

To ease folks into the wild foods world even more, I like to offer them homemade strawberry liqueur infused with pineapple-weed. Sugar - and alcohol - can really help the weeds go down!

Pineapple weed floating in liqueur Pineapple weed floating in the strawberry liqueur

This recipe is based on a simple strawberry liqueur I've made for years as a way of preserving the fleeting flavor of summer strawberries. After finding a windfall of pineapple-weed at a local park, I threw some into the freshly-strained liqueur in a fit of joy. I was delighted by the outcome - the sweet flavor gently edges the strawberries into uncharted territory as they explore a world where chamomile and pineapple flavors come from the same plant.

Whether you'd like to make a liqueur or try out a simple tea, pineapple-weed is a great ambassador to the world of wild foods. Its sweet flavor tends to surprise and delight those who had dismissed it as an inedible lawn ornament only moments before.

Harvesting tip: To get the most pleasant flavor, I recommend using only the yellow flowerheads. They hold most of the pineapple flavor. The leaves tend to taste more like chamomile and can be a bit bitter, although they are usually fine in tea. To pluck the flowerheads, place them between your thumb and forefinger and gently pop them off of the plant.

Pineapple-weed in hand Pineapple-weed, Matricaria discoidea, in hand

Strawberry Pineapple-weed Liqueur Recipe

Use the brightest and freshest-looking pineapple-weed flowerheads that you can find. It's okay if a few tiny leaves make their way in, but too many can add a bitter flavor. I recommend infusing the strawberries and the pineapple-weed separately as the pineapple-weed flavor infuses much more quickly.

This liqueur makes a great gift, especially for those who you want to get interested in wild foods. This recipe was developed entirely by taste.

Liqueur Ingredients

  • 1 pint ripe local strawberries
  • 1 ¾ cup 80-proof vodka
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pineapple-weed flowerheads

Liqueur Directions

Make the strawberry liqueur

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry the strawberries - too much water will dilute the liqueur and decrease its shelf-life. Slice the strawberries thinly and place into a quart mason jar. Add the vodka and sugar and stir to combine. The sugar probably won't dissolve all of the way which is fine. Cover tightly with a lid.
  2. Infuse for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily until the sugar is dissolved. The liqueur should be bright red and taste strongly of strawberries.
  3. Once the flavor is strong enough, set a strainer over a large bowl and pour the liqueur through it. Gently press the strawberries against the strainer with your hand or a spoon to ease out the extra liqueur. The strawberries should be flavorless, but alcoholic. Use them in sangria, or compost them. Pour the strained liqueur back into the mason jar.

Infuse the pineapple-weed

  1. In a medium bowl filled with water, float the pineapple-weed flowerheads and gently swish around to release any dirt. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then gently scoop the flowerheads off of the surface. Set them on a paper towel and gently squeeze until dry.
  2. Add the washed flowerheads to the jar with the strawberry liqueur. Cover tightly with a lid. Each day, for 2-3 days, dip a spoon into the liqueur and taste it. Once the liqueur has a nice balance of pineapple-weed and strawberry, strain it, as described above. The liqueur will keep for a few weeks at room temperature, but it should be refrigerated if kept any longer.

Carolyn Dugas, Forager

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn was born and raised in the woods of New England, where she attempted to feed "moss smoothies" to unsuspecting strangers as a child. Mercifully, her wild food skills have improved since then, thanks in part to a year-long foraging apprenticeship in 2017. Since then, she has been collecting and preparing wild foods on a daily basis. Learn more here.



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