I am besotted with Helichrysum stoechas, commonly called straw flower. My first attempts at extracting color from this humble, ubiquitous flower was in May, when the plant was just beginning
to burst forth. The near neon vibrancy of the flower's color gave me the impression I would realize a color more akin to a lemon yellow. What I pulled from the bath was a hue so complex and deeply saturated, that I immediately dubbed it Priorat Gold.
Since the early showings, I have been creating a tea with this flower throughout it's many phases. When I left for two weeks in early June, to attend to my sarasutton event at Lincoln Center, I was sure that was the end of the Helichrysum harvest. By the third week of June, the bright yellow crop had been replaced by the grayed caps of a fading flower. Out of respect, I decided to see this humble plant through to the end of its phases. The now straw like flower was easy to pick, and with a few swipes of my hand, the bucket was full.
I have been experimenting with making my "teas" in a big black bucket, as the 5L glass jars, though aesthetically pleasing, don't have the yield I need. The black of the bucket has proved to be an equally good conductor for the heat I want from the sun. It's hard to believe that from such a soup can come glorious color!
Next step, the straining. When I first began experimenting, I was leaving the plant in the tea. Though I really love the mottled effect you can get from the fabric coming in to contact with the solids, it is very difficult to control, and there are often areas that may be too dark or blotchy. So I've begun straining. The refuse then heads back from whence it came, the earth. From bloom to compost, full cycle.
And where better to decant in to but an empty jug of wine from the La Figuera cooperative, another way of recycling!
So , I sing the praises of the humble straw flower, whose tenacity throughout the one month of the year it graces us with it's bloom, relentlessly continues to turn straw in Priorat Gold!