Monday, 2 July 2012

Strawberry Sorbet

This week sees the start of the pick-your-own season in Norfolk. There will be strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and loganberries in abundance for many weeks to come.

This weekend we went to my favourite pick-your-own at Swafield Fruit Centre. There is a lovely medieval church next to the Centre which is worth exploring while you're there. You can find information about the church here.

Swafield Church and the Fruit Centre 'office' on the right

It's still a little bit early for raspberries and gooseberries but there were strawberries galore. There were a few families picking away when we were there but it was not that crowded.

In case you don't know Swafield is a village about two miles north of North Walsham. You can find a map here.

Swafield Fruit Centre has two areas for strawberry-picking. One has normal eating strawberries and the other (marked by a red flag) has jam strawberries. This means that the strawberries are not suitable for eating but just for preserving and cooking. My wife went for the eating strawberries. I went for the jam strawberries and my son played in the long grass and dandelions.

Strawberry Fields Forever...or at least as far as the hedge

Looking at the strawberries that my wife picked and that I picked there didn't seem much difference between them - except the price. On Sunday the eating strawberries were £1.15 per pound and the jam strawberries were £1.00 per pound. This is less than quarter of the price of strawberries in supermarkets.

I didn't pick the jam strawberries for jam-making but for making a strawberry sorbet. Here's how to make it without the need for an ice-cream maker.

500g strawberries
250g caster suger
140ml water
Juice of one lemon

Put the sugar in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. The moment all of the sugar is dissolved remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Rinse and hull the strawberries and whizz them in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.

Stir the puree into the cold sugar syrup and pour into a plastic container (I use an old ice-cream tub) and put it in the freezer.

Leave for two hours, then take out the tub and beat the frozen edges into the middle with a whisk. Put it back in the freezer for another two hours and then take out and beat again. Make sure that all of the frozen areas are thoroughly mixed in with the rest of the liquid. You can use a small wooden spoon to right into the corners of the tub.

Return to the freezer and leave until firm.

You now have your own delicious home-made strawberry sorbet.

On the way home we found some more elderflowers so we picked enough to make some more cordial - so there's still time to pick some elderflowers but they are starting to lose their 'whiteness'.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Elderflower Cordial

For the next couple of weeks Elderflowers are in full bloom and is therefore the time to go out into the Norfolk countryside, pick some elderflowers and make your own cordial.

Some Elderflower and some delicious Elderflower Cordial

I found loads of elderflowers at Limpenhoe (near Cantley) down a small lane to the right of the parish church and there was still plenty left last weekend. Here's the map.

My recipe for Elderflower Coridal (makes about one litre)

15-20 large heads (or umbels if you want to get technical) of elderflower (make sure that the flowers are open and bright white and use them within the couple of hours of picking otherwise they lose their whiteness and flavour)

900g caster sugar (I know this sounds a lot but you are making a cordial not a drink)

1 lemon

40g tartaric acid (You can buy this at any homebrew shop. I got mine at the homebrew section of Roys of Wroxham)

500ml of water

Slice the lemon thinly and put in a large pyrex or glazed bowl along with the elderflowers, sugar and tartaric acid.

Boil the water in a saucepan and then pour into the bowl. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.

Leave to cool, then cover and leave undisturbed in a cool place for four days.

Remove the elderflowers and lemon slices from the bowl. Now strain the cordial into bottles through a muslin-lined sieve. I bought my muslin at Thorns in Norwich - one of my favourite Norwich shops.

The cordial can be drunk straight away but will keep for some time in the fridge. I freeze a couple of small bottles for Christmas. When it defrosts the liquid is opaque but is still delicious.