Also known as Basswood, the Lime or Linden (Tilia) has around thirty species of deciduous tree, instantly recognisable at this time of year because of their flowers. The lime trees at Thyme are a-buzz, humming through the days with all things bee and I’m hoping honeybee, obviously, as resident bee-keeper here. Linden Honey is prized by bee-keepers for its flavour and texture.
There are some truly majestic trees behind the Cookery School, perhaps a century old, and the blossom this year has been gorgeous. We have recently planted the Estate Drive with a sweeping avenue of limes, just 5ft tall now, when they have a little more stature perhaps we’ll relocate the hives. Although some trees can be toxic for bees, others can provide a welcome source of nectar and supply large quantities if the conditions are favourable. Not every year is a good one – this one is.
The leaves can be used early spring, I have seen a recipe using them in sandwiches although I have never tried it! We instagrammed a limeflower tea recipe this week, soothing and restorative. Always looking for inspiration as cooks, each season we bring 'the old back as the new' with fresher eyes; tried and tested recipes given a twist or ingredients that have fallen from favour rediscovered. The true adage, our culinary mantra, ‘what grows together goes together’ is highlighted wonderfully in Frances Bissell’s ‘The Scented Kitchen’, where she combines apricots and lime blossoms in a syrup, as my culinary partner Marj would say, ‘you know its going to work.'
Always pick early morning to retain the fragrance (the same principal as elderflower). So to work: the blossoms, picked and de-bugged (washing would be a sackable offence). Our bakers have used them this month to decorate cakes (another pretty Instagram post) and we have used them to scent our English cherry cordial, another ‘old is new’. Cordials have featured heavily in this year’s repertoire, in desserts, cocktails and long refreshing soft drinks, so the addition of limeflowers has given them the perfect July twist. Our favourite though, for a private class this week, is to turn them into a mildly floral syrup to spruce up softly whipped cream to accompany a gooseberry and almond tart. We thought we’d share the recipe.