Maybowle - using sweet woodruff

Sweet woodruff (Galium Odoratum). A beautiful white flowering spring herb for shady/woody places, – it has a crystalline substance - courmarin - which when dried smells of new mown has been used in the perfume industry to disguise unpleasant smells and to help fix more pleasant ones. It was used as both a strewing herb,  hung in bunches or garlands in the home to sweeten the air and  for stuffing beds. The fresh leaves bruised and applied to wounds were said to have a healing effect .  Hock cups were made using woodruff and drunk on May day.


 2 Bunches Sweet Woodruff (use young shoots that have not already blossomed)

2 Bottles light dry white wine (dry wine tastes fresher and the Bowle can always be sweetened with brown sugar later if necessary)

1 Bottle semi-dry sparkling wine

1 untreated or well scrubbed Orange, sliced


Wash the two bunches of sweet Woodruff and let them dry. If time allows it is better to wash the herbs the evening before they are needed and allow to dry over night. This will intensify the flavor.

Empty one bottle of wine into a large bowl, together with the slices of unpeeled orange.

Gently crush the leaves between the fingers then immerse the green part of the bunch of Woodruff into the wine, by tying and hanging from string.

Cover and marinade for one hour in a cool place, tasting from time to time as the herbs vary in intensity; if left too long the mixture can become bitter.

Remove the Sweet Woodruff; add the remaining bottle of white wine and the bottle of semi-dry sparkling wine. Stir through. Sugar can be added to taste.

Place the Maybowle, which can be decorated with individual leaves and blossoms, (carefully inspected to make sure there are no "visitors" living in there), on a bed of ice if possible. This keeps the punch cool.


Serve chilled with ice cubes in a glass with one of the orange slices.

Strawberries will just be coming into season and a popular variation when serving is adding a few, sliced or quartered, to the glass.