How to Make a Magical Himalayan Balsam Gin

by Sarah - Craft Invaders

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

What is Himalayan Balsam?

You may well have heard of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) as it increasingly features in our press.

It is a non-native, highly invasive weed that damages the habitats it finds itself in by crowding out our native species. Often seen by rivers, streams and canals, it causes bank erosion and contributes to flooding due to clogging up waterways.

It is now increasingly being spotted in hedgerows along roadsides where it is proving to be just as damaging.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

What you may not know about Himalayan Balsam is that it is a highly edible plant. The green seed pods, seeds, young leaves and shoots are all edible and are traditionally used in curries in its native Himalayan region. The flowers are also edible and are used in jellies and wines.

I found a reference to a distillery adding dried Himalayan Balsam flowers to one of its gins to create a limited pink edition, but they didn’t share their recipe, so I decided to create my own. Little did I know the surprise this unpopular but beautiful flower had in store for me!

 

We collected our flowers from a stretch of the disused Thames and Severn Canal in the Cotswold Water Park where they grow in profusion.

Please note that the seed pods of this plant explode on touch when ripe scattering seeds over a vast area. This method of seed dispersal is one of the reasons that the plant is so successful. I should point out that it is actually illegal to propagate Himalayan Balsam in any way due to it’s invasive and destructive nature so please handle the plant with care.

That being said we managed to collect a 2-litre container of the Himalayan Balsam flowers without touching any seed heads so don’t be put off collecting them.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

What you need to make Himalayan Balsam Gin.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

How to make Himalayan Gin.

Cut any green from the base of the flower and pop them all in a jar with the lime zest and gin.  Leave to infuse a dark, cool place for 24 hours.

Once the 24 hours are up, strain the gin into a clean jar, add the sugar and gave it a shake to dissolve.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

The resulting Himalayan Balsam Gin is a pale amber colour much like a traditional pink gin made from Angostura bitters. The flowers impart a light floral taste to the spirit which combines well with the lime.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

But the real surprise is still to come. When you add  tonic to our Himalayan Balsam Gin something magical happens. It turns a stunning, vibrant pink as shown in the video below.

 

 

I have no idea of the chemical in the tonic which is responsible for the reaction, but I have tried 3 different brands so far, and they all work. (The things I do for science!)

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

We’d love to hear what you think if you make your own Himalayan Balsam Gin, or indeed of any other wildflower infusions. And if you are looking for some more wild booze inspiration check out the links below.

 

When I set out to create this Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe I had no idea of the surprise that was lying in wait for me. Read on to discover how to make a genuinely magical colour changing gin infusion.

 

If you have enjoyed our Himalayan Balsam Gin recipe, why not check out some of our other wonderful foraged and hedgerow liqueurs and infusions. You can find a list of our favourites below.

 

Beech Leaf Noyau

Beech Leaf Noyau is a traditional liqueur made from young leaves of the Beech tree. The leaves are gathered in spring while they are soft and sticky and still have a translucent, delicate look to them.

 

Beech Leaf Noyau is a traditional liqueur made from young leaves of the Beech tree that has a mellow herby taste with a hint of nuttiness. #GinInfusion #Beech #Beechleafliqueur

 

Rosehip Liqueur

I can’t promise that our Homemade Rosehip liqueur will stop you catching a cold, but it’ll certainly cheer you up if you do have one.

 

I cant promise that our Homemade Rosehip liqueur will stop you catching a cold, but since it tastes delicious, it'll certainly cheer you up if you do have one.

 

How to Make Hazelnut Liqueur Easily at Home

This simple hazelnut liqueur recipe only takes minutes to prepare but results in a deliciously rich and smooth nut flavoured liqueur that is perfect for gifting.

 

This simple hazelnut liqueur recipe only takes minutes to prepare but results in a deliciously rich and smooth nut flavoured liqueur that is perfect for gifting.

 

Sloe Gin

Every year we forage for sloes berries to make sloe gin. Learn how to identify sloes, when to pick them and try the best sloe gin recipe ever.

 

Every year we forage for sloes berries to make sloe gin. Learn how to identify sloes, when to pick them and try the best sloe gin recipe ever.

 

Ground Ivy and Wild Horseradish Vodka

Foraged Wild Horseradish and Ground Ivy Infused Vodka makes a wonderful peppery infusion. It is perfect for adding to tomato juice and savoury dishes.

 

Foraged Wild Horseradish and Ground Ivy Infused Vodka - click through to see our simple method

related articles

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

22 comments

Johnny September 26, 2020 - 7:29 pm

Hi Sarah
Have you tried the recipe without limes? The supermarket has sold out so I have Himalayan Balsam and gin… also some lemons . Shall I try it without the limes?

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 26, 2020 - 7:41 pm

I haven’t Johnny, but I would imagine it’d be nice with a little lemon zest instead. Let me know how it turns out 🙂

Reply
Morgan Mendel September 12, 2020 - 2:31 pm

Hey! I followed this recipe, but my gin is bright pink rather than brown (before adding tonic) Any ideas ??

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 26, 2020 - 7:45 pm

I’m afraid you’re the first problem who has said theirs was very pink to start Morgan, perhaps your flowers had more pigment in them than usual. Did you see any change of colour when you added the tonic?

Reply
Mike Amey September 4, 2020 - 11:13 pm

Hi Craftinvaders,

Thanks fir your great suggestions and recipes. Previously I’ve only foraged for sloes and made lots of sloe gin. Your ideas have given me a new inspiration and I have just made, and tasted your Magical HB gin recipe and it works. Magical. I was a chemist and am intrigued what the chemical reaction could be. Something to do with the quinine in the tonic? Great drink, I’m going to have a lotof fun with all my friends when they discover it’s magical secret. I’m also going to try the Rosehip liquer as soon as I can forage some ripe rose hips. Thanks again.

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 26, 2020 - 7:47 pm

I’d love to know what goes on chemically if you work it out Mike. The rosehip liqueur tastes amazing so do give it a go if you get the chance 🙂

Reply
Anna Williams August 27, 2020 - 11:42 pm

Hi Sarah, thanks so much for sharing the HB Gin recipe. I live in Swansea and in the park nearest me they are growing everywhere so I made a batch today. I can’t wait to watch the beautiful pink transformation! Thanks to for the nettle crisp recipe. I’m waiting for them to stop flowering so that I can make some. Thanks for taking the time to share your great ideas ☺️♥️

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 2, 2020 - 9:45 pm

Thanks for your kind comment Anna, A useful trick with nettles is to cut them back, you often get another flush in the autumn is the weather is mild 🙂

Reply
Carol Young May 6, 2020 - 8:08 pm

Can you do this with vodka and tonic?

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders July 5, 2020 - 11:08 am

I haven’t tried it with vodka but I see no reason why not Carol 🙂

Reply
Sandra Smith February 21, 2020 - 8:00 pm

I can’t find Himalayan balsam seeds for sale (I live in Portugal) but I can get Impatiens balfourii seeds do you think this would work instead?

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders March 2, 2020 - 8:23 am

Hi Sandra As far as I am aware Impatiens balfourii is not edible (and might even be toxic) so no I wouldn’t suggest it. Because the Impatiens glandulifera is an invasive plant I doubt you’ll find its seeds for sale anywhere. You’ll need to find it in the wild if you want to use it, but I don’t know if it grows in Portugal.

Reply
Neil August 26, 2019 - 9:50 am

been every where this morning i cannot find any of the
Himalayan Balsam flowers. would it be possible to send me 2 x litres of the petals and i would pay postage??

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 4, 2019 - 8:19 am

Was great to chat with you on Facebook Neil and so pleased you found the flowers in your local area 🙂

Reply
Bo September 24, 2018 - 8:02 pm

Brilliant! Thanks you’ve just inspired a present for gin loving friend! Very curious why it only has this affect with the tonic though as I don’t like tonic, so will try with other mixers to see if it has the same effect

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 26, 2018 - 10:10 am

Thanks Bo, so pleased I’ve inspired you! I haven’t tried any other mixers but wouldn’t be surprised if they have the same effect. I presume that it’s a change in ph which causes the colour change – let me know what happens if you experiment 🙂

Reply
felicity September 23, 2018 - 1:35 pm

I am in kidderminster there is a mammoth amount of this growing along the canal and the river severn but i dont know if the council spray it with toxic nasties

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 23, 2018 - 2:55 pm

They shouldn’t be spraying it Felicity because all the weed killers are hugely toxic for marine life and shouldn’t be used near water courses. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard to control 🙂

Reply
Michelle Leslie September 19, 2018 - 3:20 pm

We’ve just come back from a two week holiday down at the coast and on our way back we stopped at a place in the South African midlands and bought a gin distilling kit 😀 Now all I need to do is find some of those Himalayan Balsam flowers here and I can try make your recipe from scratch. Mmmmm or maybe I can use our Impatiens walleriana instead. I just to check if they’re safe.

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 26, 2018 - 10:14 am

Hope you had a lovely holiday Michelle 🙂 We call Impatiens walleriana Busy Lizzies here in the UK and they are very popular but I believe also toxic so no good for gin! Can’t wait to see what you do make with your gin distilling kit x

Reply
Danielle August 29, 2018 - 6:11 pm

How amazing! Must try this one.

Reply
Sarah - Craft Invaders September 3, 2018 - 2:26 pm

I bet there’s tons of Himalayan Balsam growing down by you Danielle – you must be close to the Severn and the canal 🙂

Reply