Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Elderberry and Blackberry Cordial

I went on a foraging expedition on Mousehold Heath last week. I wanted to try a new recipe that somebody had sent me for an Elderberry and Blackberry Cordial, I knew that there would be loads of elderberries because of the vast amounts of elderflowers I had picked (and lots that I left undisturbed) several months ago. There were also some clearings where I knew that blackberries were growing in abundance.

Not only did I find lots of elderberries and blackberries but I also discovered vast amounts of rosehips and fennel growing as well. I'll be going back next week to pick some of that.

I thought that people might like the recipe for the cordial. There's huge numbers of blackberries (and elderberries) this autumn and this recipe makes a difference from the usual blackberry crumble and jam recipes. I've drunk the cordial with sparkling water and it's very refreshing. I also tried it with hot water as a warmer for the coming chilly evenings and that's pretty good too.

You'll need either a jelly bag or a muslin for this recipe. I used a muslin that was used with both kids when they were babies and is now used when I have to strain something in the kitchen. This recipe will stain the muslin quite a lot but if you put it into soak immediately with some washing powder then the stain goes away. 

Ingredients

350g of elderberries (Make sure the elderberries are fully ripe. If the clusters of berries are drooping with their own weight then they are ready. You can remove the berries from their stalks with the prongs of a fork)

350g of blackberries

Caster sugar (see recipe for quantity)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon of citric acid

Recipe

Put the elderberries and blackberries in a large saucepan with 150ml of water. Heat and boil gently with the lid on for about 5-6 minutes. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes and then mash the berries with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon.

Strain the berries through either a suspended jelly bag or through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean bowl. You can squeeze or press the bag or muslin to get as much juice out as possible. Measure the juice and then add an equal quantity of sugar (so 500ml of liquid needs 500g of sugar).

Rinse out the pan and then pour in the juice/sugar mixture with the lemon juice and the cinnamon. Stir and boil for one minute.

Discard the cinnamon stick, skim off any scum from the surface, stir in the citric acid and then pour immediately into warm sterilised bottles. Seal, leave to cool and store in the fridge.

I poured one bottle of cold cordial into a plastic bottle and put it in the freezer so that we have some for Christmas.

Elderberry and Blackberry Cordial (some of it already drunk and some in the freezer)


Monday, 23 June 2014

Gooseberry and Elderflower Conserve

Whilst picking jam strawberries at a local pick-your-own to make into a sorbet, I also picked some gooseberries to make into a conserve. It's simple to make and it uses up some of that elderflower cordial that I recently made.

Here's the recipe:

900g (2lbs) of gooseberries
900g (2lbs) of granulated sugar (not jam sugar - gooseberries have loads of pectin in them already)
4 tablespoons of elderflower cordial
Small amount of butter

Put a couple of saucers in the fridge.

Take a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and smear the bottom with the butter. This helps to prevent any sticking during the rapid boil.

Top and tail the gooseberries and add to the saucepan with 150ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer slowly until the gooseberries have broken up and are tender (about 15 minutes).

Whilst this is happening put your oven on to a moderate heat (about 150oC)

Now add the sugar and stir well. Stir occasionally until you are sure that all of the sugar has dissolved into the liquid. This should take between 5-10 minutes. Now turn the heat up so that there is a rolling boil for 8 minutes.

Take off the heat. Put a small amount on one of the saucers. Wait for a minute or so. Whilst you are waiting put your jars on a tray in the oven. I made enough for 5 jam jars full.

Take the saucer and push the preserve with your finger. If it wrinkles then it is set. If not, boil for another 5 minutes and repeat.

Once it is ready, take off the heat, stir in the elderflower cordial and then leave to settle for 15 minutes.

Pour into the warm sterilised jars, seal with a waxed disc, put on the lid and leave to cool.

Here's a picture of my efforts.



I've also discovered this excellent website for making your own jam labels.