As longer and warmer days encourage tiny green shoots to awake from their long winter’s nap, our thoughts turn to the bounty of edible plants that grow wild in Rhode Island. Kathy Ploude of Rhode Island Spirits takes those thoughts one step further by gathering indigenous plants for inclusion in the distillery’s Forager’s Gin. We recently spoke with Ploude about this wild and wonderful concoction.
Motif: What plants do you use in the Forager’s Gin?
Kathy Ploude: Some of the plants we use are fresh juniper, elderberry, red clover and rose hips. It’s a beautifully floral and spicy and berry-filled gin.
Motif: Where to you go to collect them?
KP: Some grow on the shore, some along the Blackstone River Valley. Some grow at different farms and conservation lands where people don’t mind that you walk in and pick red clover off the field.
Motif: What drew you to foraging?
KP: I’ve always foraged and mucked about with things I could find and infuse. I like it when I find something edible in the world that people step on or think is a weed. For example, there’s a thing called an autumn berry. They are a small, red berry that has a silvery mottle on the top, and they are on a shrub tree that has leaves similar to an olive tree’s leaves. The berry is tart and jammy and very nice, but the plant is an invasive weed. It’s kind of fun to be able to use something that is otherwise an annoyance and a hindrance.
Rosemary Greyhound, from the RI Spirits tasting room menu
2 oz Forager’s Gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz rosemary simple syrup*
1 oz pink grapefruit juice
All all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with fresh rosemary.
*Heat equal parts sugar and water till sugar is dissolved. Add fresh rosemary as the mixture cools. Strain and bottle.