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.

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.