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Elder Flower Cordial - for late May
Blackberry & Apple Jam - for early September
Rowen Berry Jelly - for late August
Elder Berry Syrup - for Autumn
Elder Flower Cordial
As elderflowers are so abundant I have made this recipe for a large amount of flowers – you can always half it.
The flowers are best when open but not starting to ‘go over’ – the scent is wonderful and heady at this time so try to capture this by making the syrup straight after picking.
Citric acid and lemon – both of these help preserve the syrup, the more you use the tarter it becomes, but the longer it lasts. The trick is to get the perfect balance of sugar and citric acid without destroying the delicate elderflower taste.
Large bowl (or use 2)
Old bottles – or jars
One large basket of flowers (see picture) this is about 60 heads.
5 unwaxed lemons
3 litres of water
2.5 kgs sugar (castor or granulated)
125 grms citric acid
- Shake out any bugs from the flowers and put them in a large bowl (or in several bowls if too many!)
- Zest the lemons, then slice them – and add to the flowers.
- Meanwhile fill a large pan with half the water and add all the sugar. Heat till all the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.
- Pour this sugar syrup over the flowers and lemons, and add the rest of the water .
- Sprinkle over the citric acid and STIR well.
- Leave over night so the elderflower flavour and goodness can seep out.
- Then strain through a sieve lined with muslin (or similar cloth)
- Pour in to clean, sterilised bottles or jam jars (sterilise in the dishwasher, or hand wash and put in the oven to heat & dry)
- ENJOY! Last year we were still drinking ours at Easter.
used Golden Castor Sugar - hence the colour!
Blackberry & Apple Jam
The best time to make this jam is end of August/early September, so the blackberries are still out and the apples are just ripening.
My recipe is very easy and makes about 8 jars of jam.
3lbs blackberries (about 1 large bowl full)
1lb chopped apples (weighed after peeled and cored)
2lbs Preserving sugar (or normal is ok)
Sterilized clean jam jars ( I do this in the dishwasher, or they can be heated in the oven)
Waxed discs and lids.
Put everything in to a large pan (5 litres or so)Squash the fruit a little with the back of a spoon
Bring to the boil.
Boil on a rolling boil for 7 – 10 minutes.
To check it will set: drop a little jam on a cold saucer an push it with the back of a spoon to see if it will wrinkle. (sometimes this works for me, other times not, but after 10 minutes my jam always sets)
Pour or ladle in to the jars, wipe up, put on lids and label. I do recommend using wax discs, in my experience the jam lasts for longer.
You can do this with other fruit – I like the half sugar to fruit ratio as you can really taste the fruit not just the sugar. Though as my mother says you may need to keep the opened jars in the fridge as there is less sugar to preserve it. But at the rate with which we eat the jam in this house, we’ve never needed to!
PREPARATION: Pick over the berries, removing any large twiggy stems and leaves, I leave small stems in. Wash if you think necessary.
INGREDIENTS: Rowan berries, water & sugar (preserving sugar if possible). That’s it.
EQUIPMENT: large heavy bottomed pan, wooden spoon, measuring jug, jam thermometer (if possible), jam jars, wax discs and labels.
COOKING: Add cold water to half way up the berries and bring to the boil. Let it simmer away as you stir & crush the berries with a wooden spoon to the side of the pan, so it becomes a soft mush of berries, if it looks too dry add more water. After about 20 minutes or when the berries are all soft & cooked, drain them.
DRAINING: I use a normal sieve lined with muslin – though you can buy jelly bags (which are never big enough) or you can create your own ‘jelly bag’ - a piece of muslin on a tripod.
If you want very clear jelly then just leave it to slowly drip through, but as this was not my priority I pushed it through with the back of a metal spoon to get every last drop of rowan out.
ADDING SUGAR: Measure your liquid and pour it back into a clean pan. Most recipes say for every 1 litre of liquid add about 750 grams of sugar – I found this too little and kept adding more till I liked the taste, though bear in mind that rowan jelly has a naturally bitter almost acrid tang that is very different from redcurrant jelly or crab-apple jelly.
Bring this to the boil – a rolling boil for about 10 minutes so it reaches setting point of 106C. All the while skimming off the scum – though by the end of this I had so much ‘scum’ that I kept it and used it later for supper - delicious!
If you don’t have a jam thermometer then do the saucer test. (Saucer test = after 10 mins of boiling, take off the heat, drop a drop of liquid onto a cold saucer & put it in the fridge for a minute, then if the surface wrinkles when you push it with your finger it’s done – if not boil again and repeat the test.)
JARS: Have your jars all washed & sterilised before you start. Over the year I keep all old jars and lids so I have a variety of sizes to choose from as I never know how much jelly I’ll make.
A dish washer will sterilise the jars, then keep them warm in the oven till you’re ready. Or just wash by hand in hot soapy water and heat up in the oven.
Pour in to the jars, seal with a wax disc and label.
EATING: I leave it a couple of weeks before eating the jelly, as the particular taste of rowan is at first too bitter, it’s not until later that the subtle flavours develop.
It’s delicious with any meat or cheese, but especially with venison. I don’t know whether that’s something to do with rowans growing where deer graze and eating food that goes together, or whether that’s just chance.
We still have a couple of jars from last year - still delicious!
BEETROOT & APPLE CHUTNEY
You can adjust the recipe depending on how many beetroots you have.
Beetroot & apple chutney
1.4kg (3 lbs) beetroot – cooked & chopped
580grms (1.5 lbs) apples – peeled, cored & chopped
580grms (1.5 lbs) onions – finely chopped
200gr (8oz) demerara sugar
350 ml (12 fl oz) malt vinegar (or red or white wine vinegar)
Fresh ginger - about 1 inch knob
2 cloves of crushed chopped garlic
1 table spoon salt
Prepare the beetroot: peel & chop into inch cubes and cook for 30 minutes, drain.
Make the chutney: Put all the ingredients into a stainless steel pan with a lid.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.
Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
Prepare the jars: While the chutney is cooking, wash and sterilize jam jars.
Either: wash in hot soapy water and dry in oven for 30 minutes at about 120 C.
Or: run them through a dishwasher cycle and keep them warm in the oven till ready to use.
Finally: When the chutney is cooked and still hot, ladle or pour into the warm jars – a wide jam
funnel is useful for this. Put the lids on and allow to cool with the lids on. Wipe up and label.
Best to leave for a week or two to let the flavour fully develop. Enjoy!
My recipe is for a large batch of berries – our basket and a half of berries was about 16 pints of dry ‘picked over’ berries (as measured in my jam pan with convenient marks on). After cooking and draining this amount reduced down to just 6 pints of syrup!
You can adjust the recipe to how many berries you pick.
We picked over the berries discarding any old or mouldy ones and cutting off the larger woody stems. I don’t take the berries off the stems, as this takes forever and is not necessary as draining them through muslin later on will catch everything.
What you’ll need:
Elderberries, water, sugar.
Citric acid or lemon if you want to preserve it.
Sterilised bottles or jars.
Pan, sieve & muslin if possible.
Cooking the berries:
Put all your ‘picked over’ berries in a pan, add cold water so it is just under half way up the berries, any more and your syrup becomes too watery.
Bring this to the boil, crushing and stirring the fruit from time to time.
Once it has started to boil, turn it down to simmer for 20 minutes. Again stirring & crushing the berries from time to time.
Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Once cool strain through a sieve lined with muslin. Leave this to drip through – this is helped by putting a plate on top of the berries as an extra weight, or just push through with the back of a spoon.
I leave mine overnight and then squeeze out all the juice from the berries in the muslin with my hands – you’d be surprised how much more juice comes out. Thought be warned it does stain your hands in the short term!
If you don’t have any muslin a fine sieve will do an ok job, but you will have a few bits.
....A messy job , but fun if you're 8!
Adding the sugar:
This is down to taste, but I’ve found the following is a rough guide:
100 grams of sugar per 1 litre of liquid if you are not going to add citric acid. (2oz per pint)
150 grams of sugar 1 litre of liquid if you are going to add citric acid – you need more sugar than you think at this stage as the citric acid is very tart.
Heat up the elderberry liquid and add the sugar stirring so it dissolves. There is no need to simmer or boil at this stage.
If you are NOT adding any preservative then bottle the juice at this stage. If you don’t add a preservative it will keep in your fridge for 1 week, or you can freeze it.
Adding the preservative:
Lemon and citric acid are both good preservatives. Citric acid is available in most large supermarkets, health shops or online, it keeps for ages so it’s useful to have in the cupboard. There is cleaning grade and food grade, obviously get the food grade one!
2 heaped tablespoons of citric acid per 1 litre of liquid. You can use less, but it won't last as long.
Wash any old bottles or jars in hot soapy water and put in the oven to dry and sterilise. Or you can put them through a hot wash in the dishwasher.
Fill – using a funnel if need be, label and drink!
Elderberries are full of the classic anti-oxidants, vitamins A, B & C, as well as iron, calcium & potassium. Taking a couple of teaspoons neat daily will help boost your immune system and ward off colds. Or it can be diluted and used as you would a cordial.