Tag: hedgerow pickings
I had been planning to make elderflower Vodka for weeks, since I saw the first Elderflower umbels begin to flower. I bought Vodka and waited for a lovely summers day to go out and gather some elderflowers. In came the rain, and the gales, and cold weather, Brrr, not going out in this!
Yesterday I noticed that most of the elderflowers were already finished and decided today would have to be the day, or it was all over for another year, and no elderflower vodka. This morning it was sunny and still, a perfect day, and I only needed to walk a short way from my door to find a small elderflower bush with a shady side which was less advanced than I’d seen out and about yesterday. Ten or so Umbels picked and back to my suntrap back garden.
So what else do I need? a Lemon, and a bottle of Vodka, 100g of sugar, and a glass jar.
I gently removed the flower heads from the stems, Elderflowers aren’t toxic but the wood and stems are, I don’t think I would poison anyone if I’d left the stems on but you just never know. I de-stem the flowers over a plate so I can check for foreign bodies or small creatures, which can be encouraged away or squashed according to preference. I encouraged some small creatures to depart, the ones who wouldn’t go got squashed.
On top of the flowers went the zest of a lemon, and a 100 grams of sugar, and a 75cl bottle of Vodka, (it should have been a Ltr but I only had a 75cl bottle) So only 75 cls of Elderflower vodka this year.
On top of the flowers I put 3 layers of greaseproof paper and the lemon slices, this is to hold the flowers under the vodka to stop them going brown and colouring the vodka.
I found the recipe at wild at heart foods, thanks and credit where it’s due.
note to self… next time cut the paper to fit the jar, 3 or 4 layers slightly offset, each tucked down the side of the jar slightly will hold the flowers down better. Some of the lemon slices can go under the paper, all of them is too many. I have made elderflower liqueur before, see :- Elderflower liqueur
This spring I was looking to make another brew from the hedgerow, I love the fragrance of elderflower, but didn’t want to make more wine, and elderflower cordial although lovely is readily available in supermarkets which one can buy and use without the fuss and effort of making it at home. But I had read about St. Germain an elderflower liqueur which apparently is currently very fashionable in cocktails. Well, I had to have a go at that.
A short walk in the lovely countryside with a carrier bag and a pair of secateurs, and a trip to the local supermarket for a bottle of own brand Vodka, a bag of sugar and a lemon, and I’m good to go.
A pint of elderflowers were picked from the umbels, put into 1.5ltr jar with 75cl of vodka, and topped with several pieces of greaseproof paper weighted down with slices of lemon to prevent the flowers rising to the top and going brown with oxidisation.
I did not agitate this brew but allowed it to steep for 3 months, on the cool windowsill in the downstairs loo, then strained off the elderflowers and added sugar.
It then stood for another week or two while the sugar slowly dissolved, before I strained it again and bottled it… and wouldn’t you just know it, yet again there was just a little over to taste it. It tastes divine, I put aside what little was left to take to my sister to share a little tipple with me, but next time I looked it had gone, about three shots of Elderflower liqueur necked by my Dearest ( written with gritted teeth) in one go. And then he has the brass neck to tell me he doesn’t like elderflower, grrrrr. I’m making more Damson Gin, He likes that.
Following my recent successful forays into hedgerow gathering for wine I have been considering what else might be lurking in the undergrowth which I might make use of. Rose hips kept coming to mind and eye. I have noticed as I drive around the country roads that the wild dog roses which can be found flowering abundantly in the hedgerows in spring are currently sporting bright red and orange hips on almost naked stems, waving at me in the autumn sunshine.
Whilst the thought of making them into wine appealed, I have a vivid happy memory of rose hip syrup. When I was a very small girl, back in the far distant 1960’s my mother gave my sister and I a teaspoon of rose hip syrup occasionally, probably through the winter to ward off coughs and sneezes. Perhaps she had happy memories of rose hip syrup herself being a child of the war years when rose hip syrup was made from hedgerow pickings and given free to children, because it is an excellent source of Vitamin C,( 20 times as much as oranges) which would have been a scarce resource in war time when citrus fruits were unavailable and leafy vegetables seasonal.
Then a blog I follow, lovely greens did a blog post on making elderberry syrup, (Hmmmm)… decision made, Rose hip syrup it is! I waited a few days of windy and rainy evenings, till we were blessed with a calm clear day, and went off to my usual gathering spot; a cycle path on the Lune estuary near Glasson Dock. We found rose hips in abundance, but the sun was going down. We only managed to pick half of the amount I needed by the time the sun set at the mouth of the estuary. My Beloved having been prickled and scratched, insisted we went home before we found ourselves benighted. As we walked briskly back to the car, on our right towards the west the sky was lit up in shades of coral and gold by the sun, already set, while on our left the darkening sky was lit by a beautiful full moon rising over a copse of beech trees. I had my camera with me but was being rushed back to the car in case it went so dark we got lost!!!
As we drove away from the car park we were passed by my sister and niece, waving enthusiastically they were arriving for a leisurely stroll in the dusk, a moonlit walk, how lovely, Dearest! Do you think we should send out a search party or might they have found their way home?
So thanks for the idea Lovely Greens http://www.lovelygreens.com, and thanks for the recipe Girl interrupted eating http://girlinterruptedeating.wordpress.com
Rosehip Syrup Recipe
400g of rosehips
1 pint of water
100g of sugar
1. Simmer the rosehips in the water for 15 minutes, mash and return to a simmer for a further 15 minutes
2. Strain through muslin to remove the fruit pulp
3. Stir in the sugar and warm over a gentle heat
4. Pour into sterilised jars