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.

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Fruity Foragers Pie

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The small ones wanted an adventure, so off we went in grandpa’s camper to Beacon Fell for a walk. A sunny day after lots of wind and rain, left the need to get some fresh air and spend some energy.

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So although we ran up hills, played hide and seek, and sought out owls, we also found lots of berries to pick. Tis the season for blackberries and bilberries (small blueberries) so we filled our little bags and had just enough for a fruity pie, yum.

Blackberries are an easy find but rather prickly to get at, yet bilberries are harder to see on their bushes, but small people are invaluable here as they are at a great height for spotting them.

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The pie is very simple, you can use shop bought pastry for the ultimate, uncomplicated life, but I have included a pastry recipe for those that wish to make it, as granny did make her own with our fruity pie.

Ingredients

120g flour
30g icing sugar
80g chilled, diced butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
1tbsp chilled water
Pinch salt

It can be mixed by hand but my instructions are for a processor. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into your food processor bowl. Add the butter. Mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine egg yolk and water and pinch of salt together and add to your dry ingredients. Mix again, you may need to add very small amounts of chilled water if it looks dry. Stop adding water though before it’s about to clump. Take it out of the mixer and press into a flat disc, cover and chill for 30 mins. Once rested, roll out and place on a greased baking tray.

The fruit filling is really whatever you want it to be, whatever you’ve foraged and whatever you have in the fruit bowl. Granny used an apple and 4 or 5 plums, to that she added the foraged blackberries and bilberries. Mix with some sugar to sweeten if you like.

Pile the fruit in the middle of the pastry, then fold in the sides of the pastry around the fruit.

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Bake for 30-40 mins in a 190C oven until the fruit and pastry is golden brown. Dust with some icing sugar and serve.

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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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