Flowering currant panna cotta

Flowering currant is a popular ornamental that has naturalised in the UK. Its heavily-scented bunches of blossoms can be used to create uniquely-flavoured syrups and cordials, as well as desserts like our luxurious panna cotta

Flowering currant panna cotta served on a plate with a ginger crumble
These little flowers pack a lot of flavour, adding an unusual and distinctive note to this luxurious and creamy dessert

Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) is an ornamental escapee that has naturalised in the UK, having originated in North America. It remains a very popular garden plant, with its heavily scented pink or white flowers, so you may not have to stray too far to find one. Unlike its cousins the blackcurrant and redcurrant, its dark fruits are sharp and sour, and while not poisonous are a disappointing as an edible. They helped earn the plant its scientific name Ribes, which is Arabic in origin and means to "have sour sap". The flowering currant makes up for this with its abundance of pendulous blossoms, which are some of the first of the season to appear, coming into flower between April and May.


Flowering currant flowers in a cup measurer
The flowers can be eaten raw or sprinkled over dishes

These blossoms can be eaten raw and sprinkled over sweet or savory dishes, and have a potent and distinctive floral taste all of their own. Their strong scent means they are quite powerful in an infusion and as a result they make excellent cordials, syrups and sorbets. They also infuse well into milk and cream, making them an ideal candidate to create an unusual twist on this luxurious northern Italian dessert.


Like all panna cottas, this one works well served with a berry compote (the softer notes of blueberry compliment the strong floral flavour well) but we enjoy it served with a crumble to add some textural contrast. This is a deceptively straight forward recipe to try and it's a great foraged dessert to try out on dinner guests.


Ingredients (makes four ramekins):


For the panna cotta:


1 ½ cups/ 25g flowers

150ml milk

400ml double cream

2 ½ sheets platinum gelatine

1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste


For the ginger crumble:


1 heaped tbsp butter

2 heaped tbsp plain flour

1 heaped tbsp demerara sugar

1 tsp ground ginger


Method:



- Soak all bar 1/4 of the cup of flowers in the milk for around 1-2hrs. Reserve the 1/4 cup of flowers for decorating the finished panna cotta.



- Add the sheets of gelatine to a bowl of cold water and soak for 5mins.



- Pour the milk and flowers into a saucepan. Add the cream, sugar and vanilla bean paste.

- Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat.



- Pour the mixture through a sieve into a clean pan.

- Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze to remove excess. Add to the milk and cream mixture and stir until completely dissolved.

- Pour into four ramekins and put in the fridge to set, ideally for a minimum of 4hrs.



- Once you are ready to serve the panna cotta, make the ginger crumb.

- Preheat an oven to 200C/180C fan

- Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub until the butter and flour combine to a crumbly consistency.

- Bake for ten minutes on a baking parchment-lined tray until golden.


Learn more about foraging flowering currant or discover more about wild edibles and recipes on a foraging course


Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!