Spring flower Champagne. And Syrups as mixers or Desert ingredients.
If you try these recipes I would love to hear from you and of course any tips or recipes you might like to share.
The hills and countryside are rich in wildflowers now in mid may. The Fabulous almond scent of Gorse fills the air when the sun shines, there are still plenty of Dandelions to be found and I’ve spotted a few early Elderflowers.
“Champagne” is quick and easy to make and a wonderful low alcohol drink to enjoy in the garden,a “sundowner” as they say in NSW.
Syrups are quick and easy to make, diluted with sparkling water they are delicious, or use drizzled over deserts or breakfast pancakes.
Tip, gather your blossom on a sunny day if at all possible and use as soon as you get home, they will keep a few days in fridge but loose a certain amount of their fragrance.
Ingredients and equipment
Large container for first ferment, to hold 10 liters liquid plus the blossom (15 liter), or scale down recipe if liked.
5 liters of flower petals, Gorse, Dandelion with green removed. Elderflower, I’ve used a mix of mainly Gorse with some Dandelion and just 4 heads of Elderflower.
1kg unrefined sugar.
Ten liters of water.
Zest and juice of 3 limes, 1 lemon. organic
⅓ cup of cider vinegar, (or white wine vinegar)
1 sachet of champagne yeast (optional, wild yeast will do its own work)
On day 4 you will also need, sieve, funnel, Muslin or other cloth for straining. Also strong swing top bottles or Plastic water bottles at a pinch.
Tip, to clean Dandelion flowers, hold by the stalk, Gather petals in other hand and twist.
Put the kettle to boil, noting how mush water you are using to fill, 1liter, 1 ½ or 2.
Put all cleaned blossoms into fermenting vessel along with zests, juice and vinegar.
Measure sugar into the jug and pour the boiling water over stirring to dissolve.
Pour the hot syrup and any remaining boiling water over the blossom and stir.
Top up with remainder of water, allow to cool to room temperature.
Add champagne if using, if not don’t worry, wild yeast will do it’s work.
Leave in a warm place for 2-4 days till the mix bubbles
Tip, as soon as I have added yeast I wrap my bucket in a blanket, this helps keep the temperature constant and fermentation even.
On day 4, strain and bottle in strong swing-top bottles or plastic water bottles.
Leave 2 weeks,in a cool place, then move to fridge.
Tip, Strain through just a sieve first,squeezing out as much liquid as possible with back of spoon. Then strain again through muslin or cotton, be patient this can take a little time. You can see from the layer at top of bottles that I did not strain mine well enough, so will empty bottles and re-strain, this won’t do any harm as it is bottled just two days and won’t loose much fizz by being re-bottled.
Delicious syrups for mixers, lemonades or deserts are quick and east to make and twice as quick to disappear, here I use a mix of Nettle and Lemon balm and as season goes on will add more recipes for Rose petals and Garden herbs.
1 liter of nettle tops
2 handfuls of Lemon balm (or use zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon.
1 liter water.
Put nettle tops and lemon balm or zest and juice into bowl,
Boil the water and pour over,
Stir till sugar is fully dissolved,
Allow to sit for an hour covered with a clean cloth.
Strain, first through a sieve then muslin and bottle.
I’m not a beer drinker but do like this one, chilled on a hot day or sitting round a bonfire at night, easy to make and ready in less than 2 weeks. Important to say you will need strong beer bottles or plastic bottles for the second fermentation. If you try this or have suggestions on how to vary I’d love to hear from you.
4400Ingredients for 1kg nettles to give 12 liters of beer.
1 1/2 kg unrefined sugar,organic if possible.
Zest and juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges, organic.
1 teaspoon of tartaric acid or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
Piece of Dandelion root, about 100gm or root ginger.
2 teaspoons of brewers yeast.(you can use bread yeast if no brewers yeast available)
6 liters hot water,5 liters of cold water and a kettle full (1liter)
Harvesting your nettles, Tip weigh you empty collecting container and make a note of the weight, that way you can weight the full container and easily work out weight of nettles gathered. I used a large 20 liter bucket and filled it was approximately 1kg ( if a bit more all the better) Pick just the tips of nettles leaving plenty of food for the many insects which love to feed on nettles.
Put 6 liters of water to boil in a big saucepan or use two if needed. Meanwhile sort through your nettles releasing any hitch-hiking insects back to the great outdoors.
Slice the root, Dandelion or ginger thinly and add to water along with the tartaric acid. Add the nettles and bring to the boil stirring once or twice, allow to boil 15 mins.
Meantime put sugar, zest and juice into the fermenting bucket, boil the kettle and pour contents over sugar, stir to completely dissolve sugar.
Activate the yeast by placing in a cup along with a pinch of sugar, pour on half cup warm water and leave aside.
When the nettles have been boiling 15 mins remove from heat and pour into the fermenting bin, add the 5 liters of cold water and give it all a good stir.
Allow to cool to blood heat and then add the activated yeast.
Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 5 days.It’s best to maintain a constant temperature if possible, TIP I place the bucket on a doubled blanket andwrap the whole thing up to keep cosy.
While you are waiting for first ferment collect and clean your bottles, they can be sterilized in oven just before filling, (140 degrees cent for 20 mins) You can also use water bottles but they don’t look good and can be either too big or too small.Please do remember you need strong bottles, the swingtop kind used for many craft beers are ideal.
Tip, if using clip top beer bottles, I sterilize the bottles in oven and tops including rubber seal in solution, before removing clips from bottle take a photo of them so it quick and easy to replace them correctly later.
Day 5, strain beer through muslin and bottle, leave one week and it’s ready to enjoy.
Share with friends.
Repeat, adapt to your taste, more Dandelion? more nettle? herbs?
This is quick and easy to make, keeps well in fridge for 2 weeks and freezes well. It is a method of saving flavour of your mushrooms for later. The butter is sublime on toast, risotto, baked spud or as a special treat with poached eggs.
Other mushroom combinations work also,this is based on my latest seasonal finds.
400g Winter Chanterelle,
100g horn of plenty, or tablespoon dried, soaked in red wine.
2 shallots, diced.
tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped.
Black pepper, sea salt and dash of truffle oil if you are lucky enough to have some.
450 g soft butter.
Heat a little oil in a heavy pan, Sauté the shallots, add mushrooms and seasoning, except truffle oil and cook ten mins on medium heat.
Allow to cool, when cool cream butter and add the mush mix, finish with drop or two of truffle oil. Pot into small jars and freeze if not using within 2 weeks.
Recently baked this for The Happy Pear, they loved it. It’s a basic vegan cake which loves a drizzle of fruit juice or coffee and Beech Leaf Liqueur.I made it with Lime zest in it and topped with delicious Raw Fraughans, but you can use Rose petals, Orange zest, Lemon or even a few wild Hazelnuts in the mix.
For the topping, macerate Fraughans (wild Bilberries) in a little sugar or other sweetener, I use half weight sugar to fruit that is 100 grms fruit 50 grms sugar and a dash of organic lime juice and jest.Leave for at least an hour stir now and then.
For The Cake, Oven 175 degree C, Pan-20 Cm springform pan, base lined with parchment.Or Muffin Trays lightly oiled.
150 grms Ground Almonds,
150 grms potato flour,
2 teaspoons of organic baking powder,
150 grms organic caster sugar,
50 mls ex virgin olive oil,
250 mls Almond or non dairy milk,
Zest and juice two limes,
teaspoon vanilla essence.
Sieve the potato flour and baking powder into a large bowl, stir in ground Almonds and lime zest.
Put juice, oil Vanilla and milk into a jug and whisk together,
Stir the dry mix and while stirring pour the wet slowly in to form a smooth batter. If mix seems a little to stiff add a little more milk or oil.
Pour into baking pan or divide into muffin trays, (Silicone ones work really well)
Bake 20 minutes for Muffins or 25 minutes for cake, test and bake till just set.
Allow to cool in pan for ten mins then remove from tin and cool on wire rack.
Slice cake into 8 or twelve slices, pile Fraughans on top, allowing juice to run down sides, decorate with edible flowers and Mint leaves.
Split Muffins and fill with Fraughans, decorate with Mint and edible flowers.
Ramson’s wild Garlic is appearing in many a wooded spot around now. Easy to identify and very tasty this is a great “starter”forage food. But a few words of warning.
Learn to distinguish young leaves from the young leaves of Wild Arum which often grows near by and when small can be mistaken by the unwary.
Pesto seems to be the most popular use of wild garlic and while it is easy to make there are some safety considerations.
Any food stored under oil has a short shelf life of 2 weeks. There should always be a layer of oil covering the pesto and once you start to use remember to top up with with more oil.
Store your pesto in the Fridge, below 5 degrees centigrade.
If any of your pesto shows signs of bubbling or pressure building up in the jars disgard the batch. Better to head out to the woods and start again.
Your pesto (or garlic leaves) will freeze well so you can keep a supply throughout the year.
So Keep cool, keep safe and happy.
Wild Energy booster.
This is my daily fix ofwild power, packed full of nutrients and flavour. Recipe is for 1 large or two medium servings.
Handfull of fresh garlic leaves.
Handfull of fresh nettles,
juice and zest of organic lemon, if you don’t have organic leave out the zest.
2 peeled apples or one ripe banana.
1 and 1/2 cups filtered water.
Blitz together and enjoy.
Nettle and Parsley pesto.
Ramsons Garlic and Rocket Pesto.
These are versatile recipes using whatever combination of leaves you like.Oil can be Olive, rapeseed or a combination. Nuts can be Cashew, Walnut , Pinenut or again a combination. Cheese is optional, again I often use Mossfield mature or leave out altogether to suit those with Dairy intolerance. if you have nothing to hand but leaves and oil you can blend together and season later.
2 liter jug of young leaves of choice,
300mls of oil,
juice of 3 lemons,(if organic use zest also)
100grms nuts or seeds.
100grms grated Parmesan or mature cheese (optional)
First snip leaves with scissors, this avoids long strands getting tangled in your blender.
Blend leaves and oil, season, add lemon juice and zest, blend briefly, stir inchopped nuts and cheese if using, pot into small jars and refrigerate or freeze.
Elderberries are ripening in hedgerows, great news as these little berries are tasty, easy to identify and full of goodness. They are at least as valuable when it comes to boosting your immune system as Echinacea and available for free all around us. So grab your bucket and get yourself some local free super food.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin C, they also contain high levels of flavonoids which inhibit the ability of flu virus to enter cells. Elderberries are packed with all the essential amino acids, Vit A, B C and H, calcium, magnesium and Iron.Thus Elderberry is a strong immune strengthening herb. They act as tonic, antibacterial,anti-inflammatory, and expectorant.
Elderberries can be used in relishes chutneys, jellies and syrups. They also contain high levels of tannins which makes these little beauties perfect for making homemade wine.I use Elderberry wine to blend with other fruit wines. Here is a simple recipe for syrup which stores well, take a spoonful every day as winter tonic or every few hours at first signs of infection.
Elderberry Syrup, spiced. Syrups are very versatile, they make a great warming drink, can be drizzled over ice-cream or pancakes or added to smoothies or even sauces.Take a Spoonful over porridge or in yogurt in morning. This is my favourite winter syrup. Great added to a hot port, guaranteed to cheer you up when the chills threaten. I usually add cloves and cinnamon bark or star anise to the mix to give it extra warmth, you could try organic lemon juice and zest or organic orange jest
Equipment: Saucepan, stainless steel if you have. Jelly bag or old pillow slip for straining Measuring jug Weighing scales, Bottles to store your syrup.screw top or clip top.
Ingredients: Elderberries stripped from stems, enough to half fills your saucepan. Water, Cloves, Cinnamon stick. Sugar.white, unrefined or Demerara.(you can use xylitol for a sugar free version)
Citric acid or juice and jest of organic lemon (aids preservation)
Method: Put berries in pan and cover with water, bring to boil and boil for 15 mins.Strain through jelly bag or pillow slip, squeezing to extract as much juice as possible. At this stage you can freeze some of the juice to later. Sterilize bottles in oven ( not essential if for home use) 20 mins at 160. Rinse saucepan and measure juice. For every liter of juice add 250grms sugar or xylitol to taste.
This is a small quantity of sugar but you can increase if you prefer a sweeter juice.
Use one teaspoon of citric acid or 2 lemons per liter.
Add spices if using, I usually add them directly into bottles, cloves in one , Cinnamon in another etc, about 4 cloves and 3cm cinnamon per 250ml bottle. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar.bring to boil, turn off heat and allow to cool a little before adding citric acid, stir to dissolve and bottle. Bottle and allow to cool completely before storing in cool dark place or fridge.