Damson Plum Cordial

  
Plums are good but damson plums are exceptional.  My kitchen cupboards are a richer place for having found some damson trees last week. I couldn’t even reach them all, so I had to leave loads on the trees and mourn what could have been!

I’ve already done jam, jelly, cake, pie, gin, so what next? Well I’ve not tried this cordial recipe before so I thought it was worth a try. Delicious by itself but great as mixer too.

The recipe I first used was from a fab book called Booze for Free, but I have changed the quantities slightly to make the syrup lighter.

Ingredients

  • 1kg Damsons
  • 1.1kg Sugar
  • 1.25 litres water

It an easy recipe… simmer the damsons and water for up to 60 mins until their skins are peeling off. Strain through a muslin cloth. Add the sugar to the remaining liquid that’s strained off, simmer this for 3-4 minutes, skimming off any scum that sits on the surface.


Let it cool then pour into sterilised bottles. How easy was that? It  would make a nice gift if given with a bottle of gin this Christmas.

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Wild Flower Syrup 

 

Summer lags behind this year and I’ve been waiting to start picking, so I can get making. Last year it was me that lagged behind, so this year I didn’t want to waste any opportunities. I managed some foraging on a sunny day, a rarity at present and decided to make syrup, trying to get that one hot sunny day bottled!

Syrups are versatile, perfect at catching the essence of something, preserving that moment for a later date. Pour your syrupy creation on pancakes, use as a cordial, cocktail mixer (I’m thinking with Prosecco, yum), over ice cream… and so on.  Cheap to make and the ingredients are on your doorstep, just get out there and capture summer in a bottle.

There are many scented flowers out there to create a syrup with.  Classically you could stick to a single flower like elderflower or rose or you could collect others and make a wildflower syrup.  You can use dandelion, hawthorn, wild roses.  You can look in your own garden, use roses that have not been treated with fertiliser or pesticides, or use herbs you find there.  Experimentation with flavours would be a good idea.  Rose & thyme?  Elderflower & basil?  Who knows, I’m just throwing them out there?
So I found elderflower, hawthorn and some rose from the garden, the recipe I have used is adapted from River Cottage Hedgerow, it’s a great book and worth a look.

Ingredients

  • Lots of freshly picked blossoms (1 litre ish)
  • Up to 1kg sugar
  • Up to 500ml water

As the amount of flowers collected is unknown, it’s just important to make a note of your weight of sugar at the start, subtract the sugar you have left after ‘layering’, then you know how much you have used, you need to know this quantity later.

Take your blossoms and layer them approximately 2cm at the bottom at the bottom of your jar or jug.  Next add a 1cm layer of sugar and repeat till your reach the top.  If any of your blossoms are bulky, press them down to pack them in a bit.  But the layering does not have to be a work of art, as you can see, mine clearly isn’t and some layers have merged.

  
Cover your jug/jar and leave it alone for 24 hours. 

Empty your mixture into a saucepan and add to it 50mls water for for every 100g sugar you used (the quantity you worked out earlier).  

  
Heat the mixture gently, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Strain through a muslin or cheese cloth (even a clean tea towel would do) into a clean jug.

Pour the syrup into a sterilised bottle (see the  Elderflower Cordial recipe on how to sterilise bottles).  If you don’t use the syrup right away, store in the fridge, once you do open it.

Rosehip Syrup

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Once a staple during the Second World War as a drink to stay healthy. That’s because of the vast amounts of vitamins A & C, it’s now becoming a popular again, not just for its health benefits but for it’s lovely flavour

Rosehips are so easy to find and collect and the syrup tastes delicious, no spoonful of sugar required with this medicine! I love saving it for winter and drinking it hot instead of tea, very soothing if you feel under the weather. It does taste lovely on pancakes and drizzled on cakes too.

It’s not difficult to make but you do need a food processor for this recipe. Make sure stalks are removed and rinse the fruit off.

Ingredients

380g Rosehips
500g Granulated sugar

Bring 600mls of water to the boil in a pan. Mince the Rosehips in a food processor, then add to pan of boiling water, cover. Once boiling point is reached again, set to one side for 15 minutes letting it steep. Then pour through a jelly cloth or muslin to strain the juice off. Set that juice aside. Add another 600mls of water in the pan and add the Rosehip pulp, repeat the boiling process. Strain overnight.

Now combine both strained juices (in a pan) if you haven’t already. Add the sugar, heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 mins and pour into warm sterilised jars. It keeps for about 4 months.

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Lavender Cordial

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If you like elderflower cordial then you might like this. It’s not all old lady’s wardrobes and mothballs, lavender cordial tastes lovely (I promise). All you need is one or two plants to pick flowers from, and they are in most gardens so you don’t have to go far. Easy pickings!

It’s particularly good paired with gin & tonic and really helps one wind down from a stressy day at work. It is well documented that lavender has relaxing properties, so why not drink it’s benefits? The Guardian newspaper had an article on cocktails and mocktails at the weekend and in there was a recipe for lavender syrup with milk, I was a little sceptical about how good it would taste, but I tried it and it actually a tastes lovely, (although having lavender cordial in gin & tonic is still my favourite tipple).

The cordial does not need to be limited to drinks though, great as a syrup over ice cream or as a drizzle over cake, and I’m sure there are an abundance of more creative ways to use it.

The recipe below has adapted part of the Lavender Milk recipe recently published in The Guardian. It is a very simple recipe, I have just increased the quantities so that there is a decent amount to keep stored in the fridge, for whatever purpose you wish.

Ingredients

40 lavender heads
400g sugar
400ml water

Add the water and sugar, stirring occasionally until simmering. Once the sugar has dissolved and you have a clear liquid, turn down the heat, adding the lavender heads, cooking for a further minute. Remove from the heat, allow the lavender and syrup to stand for 40-60 mins. Strain the the syrup and pour into a sterilised bottle (see elderflower cordial recipe for sterilising bottles). Once bottled, keep in the fridge, enjoy.

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Elderflower Cordial

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Elderflowers, a signal that summer has arrived, get your sparkling water and ice at the ready, (and your gin) for the most refreshing of summer drinks…elderflower cordial is essentially summer in a bottle.

It’s almost a British staple these days, easy to buy, the cordial is found on all supermarket shelves, but it’s so easy to make too, and the homemade version beats the shop bought stuff hands down, it tastes amazing. Not to mention it’s cheap to make.

Make the most of this summer essential…

Ingredients

30 elderflower heads
2.4kg granulated sugar
1.6 litres water
3 unwaxed lemons
100g citric acid

In a large bowl place the elderflower blossoms. Take the lemons, slice off the ends and throw away. Peel the zest, the slice up the lemon, put both in the bowl with the elderflower & set aside.

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the boiling surup over the elderflowers & lemons. Stir in the citric acid, then cover and love to stand for 24 hours.

Now that you’ve slept and your ready for your cordial. Take a muslin cloth or jelly straining cloth and strain the cordial, pour into sterilised screw top glass bottles and your done.

(Any glass cordial or wine bottles will be fine for using, just wash thoroughly , and place in a 100 degree oven for about 20-30 mins, this will sterilise the bottles really for use).

It’s such a hassle free recipe and reaps great rewards, try it over icecream as sauce or add the cordial to a gin & tonic to give it a summery twist.
When all is said & done though, you can’t beat just drinking it on ice with sparkling water.

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