Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Scent Safari, Part 2 -Trees

In the blog post "Spring Scent Safari, Part 1" I showed some pictures of the earliest spring flowers that show up around my in-laws house. But, if anyone remembers, I also said that they hardly have any scent at all. So is Sweden all scentless during spring, one might ask? No, I wouldn't say so. There are lots of scents, but at this time of the year, if you want to experience them, you have to look toward the trees.

Now, if you just stand there, pressing your nose to the trunk and leaves there are some scents, but not very strong. How do you get to the more substantial ones?  You can cut the tree down, of course. A warm chainsaw is grinding it's way through the trunk would release lots of scent. But I somehow doubt that my mother in law would still like me if I cut down the trees in her garden. And I like them myself so it would be pretty stupid to cut them down. So, what other options are there?

Well, just pick some fresh buds and new baby leaves, stuff into your mouth, chew them and pond upon what sensations you get! Most of what you think you taste are actually scents. A great way to get a close experience of the raw materials in your surrounding. Of course, be very careful to try only trees and plants that you know are not poisonous in any way.

Here are the one I tried:

Birch. This one gave me a very astringent feeling in my mouth. It was bitter but very fresh and leafy.

Spruce. Extremely resinous. Spicy and bitter. Somehow more feminine than the pine.

Pine. What can you say, the king of Swedish trees? Also resinous but a lot less acid than the spruce. Feels very manly somehow, probably as it is used mainly in masculine fragrances :)

Rowan. This was a big suprise. Hardly any astringency. A hint of soft nougat or hazelnuts. I'm dying to try putting some of this in alcohol to see what happens.

Moss. This one did not have any smell at all, nor taste. Mabye the moss I tried was dead but I wouldn't be able to tell the difference...

Blackcurrant bush leaves. Lovely, the blackcurrant note shows up in the leaves, but much greener. Like a Sauvignon Blanc. If you're into wines, this is a must try. The baby leaves might be great in a spring salad, hm, what to pair them with?


  1. There's nowhere safe here in Chicago to go around stuffing flora of any type into your mouth, but I would definitely consider doing this if I were in a more rural area. I would like to taste oud, and someone I know (through blogging) recently told of her adventures at Trygve Harris' Enfleurage in NYC, where Trygve made Frankincense ice cream and other odd delights.

  2. Haha, I've been having a debate with myself if it's safe to make nettle soup of the nettles that are growing outside my window (when I'm not visiting my in-laws I live in Stockholm, the Swedish capital) and I've decided against it. But I bet there are so many plants and other stuff that could be used in food that no one has thought of yet.

  3. So now I know that the plant I photographed last week is Rowan! I have some blackcurrant sprouting leaves now - will test. The spring wildflowers are just coming into bloom on the hillsides here, and yes, I'm quite excited to get out there and sniff :)

  4. Where about do you live? Sounds like we're living in similar climate zones. It will be interesting to hear what you think about the leaves :)