May 1st – Weird names

Another plant today, but why is it called a cowslip? Even with my weird imagination I can’t vision a cow slipping on a little delicate flower, so it’s back to T’internet.

Most sites suggest it is derived from the old English for cow dung, known as cow slop, as they are associated with cow meadows.

It’s botanical name is Primula veris, and is part of the primrose family. The flowers have a very distinctive and fresh fragrance and somewhat narcotic juices, which have given rise to their use in making the fermented liquor called Cowslip Wine, which had formerly a great and deserved reputation and is still largely drunk in country parts, being much produced in the Midlands. It is made from the ‘peeps,’ i.e. the yellow petal rings, in the following way: A gallon of ‘peeps’ with 4 lb. of lump sugar and the rind of 3 lemons is added to a gallon of cold spring water. A cup of fresh yeast is then included and the liquor stirred every day for a week. It is then put into a barrel with the juice of the lemons and left to ‘work.’ When ‘quiet,’ it is corked down for eight or nine months and finally bottled. The wine should be perfectly clear and of a pale yellow colour and has almost the value of a liqueur. In certain children’s ailments, Cowslip Wine, given in small doses as a medicine, is particularly beneficial.

Young Cowslip leaves were at one time eaten in country salads and mixed with other herbs to stuff meat, whilst the flowers were made into a delicate conserve. Cowslip salad from the petals, with white sugar, is said to make an excellent and refreshing dish.

Published by taumataman

Slightly mad, with a love of nature and photography.

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