There is an abundance of wild garlic growing around us at the moment – event if you don’t recognise the plant, you can’t miss the potent smell when out for walks.
We picked some while we were walking Arthur this morning and David made a tasty wild garlic pesto for our lunch. Yum!
All you need is:
– two handfuls of wild garlic leaves
– a handful of hard cheese. The parmesan that is really cheap in Lidl is ideal.
– a handful of pine nuts
– a good generous slosh of olive oil
Bung the lot together in a blender and give it a whizz. You can add more olive oil if its too dry. Then mix through pasta (David follows his Italian Grandma’s recipe and makes his own which is fantastic!) and add any other ingredients you want. Voila!
*If you freeze the leaves you can make pesto with hazelnuts from the hedgerow instead of expensive pine nuts in the autumn.
We were thrilled to find three bountiful gooseberry bushes in our back garden, so we’ve made some gooseberry jam to use as favours at our wedding in the autumn. This is our recipe.
- Tonnes (actually 2kg) of gooseberries
- A lemon
- 2kg of granulated sugar
- A really big pot
Put three saucers in the freezer – more on this later…
We got jars from Amazon and sterilised them by washing in hot soapy water, rinsing in boiled water and drying in the oven. We also spent ages topping and tailing all of the gooseberries. It took a LONG time.
We bunged the gooseberries into the pan with the juice of the lemon and 400ml of water, and simmered it for about quarter of an hour. Then we added the sugar and stirred the mixture (at a lower heat, if it boils the sugar crystallises) for another 15 minutes until it was all dissolved.
Now boil the mix hard for at least 10 minutes. I panicked at this point because it started going red, and why would green gooseberries go red right? But it turns out that is what happens when you boil them with sugar, it is correct and you don’t need to ring your sister in a panic that you’ve done it all wrong…
Then we got one of the saucers out of the freezer and dropped some of the jam onto the cold surface and let it cool. The test is that if you run your finger through it, it should wrinkle up. It took a couple of tries (and a lot more boiling of the mixture) for us before this happened, but as soon as it did happen we put the mix into the jars and it set perfectly.
Apparently you should put the lids on the jam jars while the mix is still hot as it creates a better seal and helps to preserve the jam for longer – no idea if this is true but it is what all of the advice online seems to say, so that is what we did. So far, that seems to have worked!
I think our biggest learning so far is to plant less quantity and more variety next year. We’ve had spinach for every meal for two weeks now – Katrina even tried to feed it to me for breakfast this morning.
Nothing smells more like summer than elderflower, and harvesting it to make cordial left our whole house smelling gorgeous.
We have our very own elderflower tree in the garden, so we didn’t have to race any local pensioners to collect the flowers just as they bloomed, we could wait and pick the best blooms at the perfect time – apparently on a nice dry day, early in the morning when the scent is strongest.
The recipe we used to make our cordial is:
- 2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
- 85g citric acid
You can usually get citric acid from the chemists, but all of ours around here had run out. In the end we met a lady in Frome by chance who happened to have some left from a school project. David helped her carry her bags home in return for a packet of it!
First off we zested the lemons and cut them into slices, and we found a clean tea towel and some garden twine for covering the pot when we’re done. We put the sugar (it is a LOT of sugar) with one and a half litres of tap water into a great big stockpot we bought cheaply in IKEA. You have to heat the mix but not boil it, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar is all dissolved you can turn up the heat and get the mix boiling, and then turn off the heat. We rinsed the flowers briefly in cold tap water to remove any insects, and then dropped them into the syrup with the lemon slices, zest and citric acid. Apparently the citric acid helps to keep the cordial clear. Then we tied the tea towel around the top of the pan (instead of using the lid – it needs to be able to breath) and left it for 24 hours.
The next day we removed the tea towel and used this to strain the syrup – you’re supposed to use muslin cloth but this did the job fine. We ladled the syrup through the tea towel into a bowl and the threw out the flowers. We sterilize the bottles we were using by washing them with soap and water, and then rinsing with boiling water and drying in the oven.
The cordial is really tasty, especially when it is mixed with fizzy water. We froze one bottle and gave one to my Nan and Grandad, and we’ve been enjoying the others all summer!