Reasons to be cheerful

The wind’s whipping around the back of the house. Every time I step out of the door it rains…and I mean biblical torrents. I have a ‘to do’ list which looks like a queue for the latest Banksy exhibition and my PC  is throwing a strop worthy of Violet Elizabeth Bott. Hence the messy looking hyperlinks!! Today may not be the best of days.  But who needs a blogger who moans? Enough! I need some blue sky thinking.

Firstly my passion for sunflowers knows no bounds and so I was delighted when Ben Ranyard of Higgledy Garden  asked me to write a guest article about them on his blog. Nip over to read it here. http://higgledygarden.com/2011/09/03/sunflowers-guest-article-by-cally-of-country-gate-gardens/ Ben grows and sells seasonal cut flowers and his blog is full of fabulous pics and info about all manner of delighful blooms.

Secondly I will be making another batch of elderberry cordial soon as the berries on and around the allotment are almost as abundant as the raspberries. You’ll find all the details here http://bit.ly/VYf92. Did I mention the raspberries? They are Ah- Maize – Zing this year!

See. It didn’t take me long to see the blue skies.

Elderberry cordial

elderberry

 It took me a long time to discover the delights of preserving. which is a little surprising since my mother and grandmother were prolific bottlers. However I am now a convert.

As an antidote to the business of  helping out at a holiday club this week – I play Carrie Crooner singing coach and aging hippy (Yes, it’s not Shakespeare.) – I have made my first ever batch of elderberry cordial.

The berries were foraged from our allotment and the hedgerows within 5 minutes of home. Then I spent a lovely half hour in the sun with a fork stripping the berries from the stalks. There is no need to do this if you don’t want to but I find it quite therapeutic, in the same way I do shelling peas.

boiling elderberriesYou need to choose a dry day in which to pick the berries. Put them in a preserving pan or large stainless steel saucepan to stew.  Use just enough water to cover them.. When they are ready (it doesn’t take long) strain the contents of the pan through muslin. It’s at this point that your kitchen might resemble a scene from Macbeth.elderberry cordial

As I am more Nigella than Delia I don’t bother to weigh the berries.  Just add 450g of sugar for each pint of juice. I used brown sugar but I don’t think it matters. I also put in a couple of cinammon sticks and a handful of cloves (about 20) to my 2 pints of juice. Boil it up for 10 miutes and voila!  Beautiful, delicious elderberry cordial. Pour into  sterlised bottles which you then stash away in the pantry, cupboard, shed or garage. Perfect diluted with hot water on cold winter days when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

 

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