Tag Archive | foraging

Elderflower Cordial

It’s the time of year for Elderflower cordial. I can smell the flowers as I walk by the trees at the moment and the fragrance is so evocative of summertime – fresh and sweet.

                        

The recipe is very easy, but there are a few tips I have picked up over the years to ensure you get super sweet, fragrant cordial. This is good for mixing with juice or water, or (of course) Prosecco. There is also a gin cocktail which is a favourite of mine. Recipe below.

You will need:

20-25 heads of elderflower

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 litre boiling water

1kg of caster sugar.

My lovely trug, coming into action again!

 

 

 

Always pick the flowers on a dry day and in a clean place, ie. away from a busy road.

Don’t wash the flowers, but give them a good shake to get rid of any bugs/debris.

 

 

 

Place the flowers in a large bowl (I usually trim mine from the stalk with scissors and with half inch of stem).

Add the lemon zest and pour on the boiling water. Cover with a cloth and leave for 24 hrs, stirring occasionally.

 

 

 

Using a sieve, strain the mixture into a jam pan or heavy bottomed pan. Muslin or coffee filter papers are good to use at this point, as there are still sometimes little bugs that get through.

Add the sugar and bring the mix to the boil, then turn the heat down slightly and stir until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. It’s up to you how thick you want the syrup now. Thicker is good for pouring on ice-cream/ yoghurt etc.

Decant into sterilised bottles. The syrup should keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or you can pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

 

Gin and Elderflower Cocktail

1 part Gin

1 part Elderflower syrup

Tonic or lemonade or soda

Pour over ice and lemon and enjoy

 

The Recipe Section

As an introduction to the recipes section, I think its worth explaining that my main motivation is about making the most of what I can grow, forage, beg, borrow and steal (or get given). So some recipes on here will contain ingredients that are perhaps not that everyday – unless you are a hardcore forager/gardener!

One of the ideas behind this blog was to write about food and the garden from a perspective of less waste, foraging and making the most of the plants that we have. I’m growing a lot for floristry and flower arranging, but we have some veg as well. A big influence is a book I picked up by James Wong  (@Botanygeek) called The Homegrown Revolution.

I’ll be referring to this on occasion, but also websites, blogs and books by other writers. I will always reference where I have got ideas from, and would also love to hear from people that have suggestions for ingredients or recipes.

Planting a Foraging Hedgerow

It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and it probably comes from my early family life of making the most of what we had, waste not want not etc. Food for free (or a little effort) has got to be a good thing, and although I could never live totally off grid or try to be completely self sufficient (travel, tv, wifi etc you get the picture) I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of harvesting and making food from whatever I can find growing wild.

As much as the hedges around us already have a lot of what I like to use, I feel we are competing a bit with the birds, who often grab the elderberries before I can get them, and the farmer who is fastidious in his hedge trimming, much to the detriment of the blackthorn, blackberries and hazels nearby.

I also like the idea of having everything in one space, not being lazy, just practical. Anyway, we have a fence that needs replacing with rabbit wire and a hedge there would also help break the wind a bit and add to the veg patch we are slowly developing. Perfect solution.

I’ve read a bit, researched a bit, spoken to the garden centre owner and am also plumping for a good dose of suck it and see beginners luck. This garden and house are our forever home and therefore a long term project. I think I am going to learn more from the mistakes I make as much as the books I read. As long as there aren’t too many and it doesn’t put me off!

Anyway, this is the week it is going to happen. I have some spare cash (before the Christmas spending begins) and a gardener lined up to help dig the holes!

So my wish list is:

Black elder – more interesting than the usual elders and we already have a few of them around. (for Elderflower and berries)

Blackthorn (sloes)

Crab apple – edible obvs for jelly

Damson – to replace the one we had to take down

Hazel – for the cobnuts and hazels

Plum – why not?!

Quince – jelly and jam

I have a couple of dog roses already for hips, but in theory any rose hip can be used for syrups etc.

We also have a blackberry, which produces the most amazing plump fruit, and is already holding a corner position at one end of the planned hedge, so I am cultivating that.

The lovely people at Wiggly Wigglers in Herefordshire were really helpful with some great advice. After I made a quick email enquiry I had a call back from them within the hour and some very good tips. Followed up by an email with the planting guides they send out with their Edible Hedge Pack. A great help.

So we’ll see how they get on… updates to follow.