A Bumper Harvest of Greengages

Delicious greengage chutney

Last night the boys gathered the last of our bumper crop of greengages. It’s the first year we’ve had a proper crop after planting the tree about 6 (or more) years ago. This afternoon, while the younger members of the household variously sunbathed on the beach at Budleigh Salterton, played football or cycled 130km with clubmates Mum got to grips with the harvest. Chutney-making is the kind of cooking I love. There’s plenty of therapeutic repetitive chopping and stirring and you can give full rein to your creativity.

I had about 2 kilos of greengages, stoned and quartered. To these I added 4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped. These were donated by a neighbour (ours aren’t ready yet and there were none to be found in the supermarket this week). Next went in three medium red onions, chopped small, a large knuckle of ginger, peeled and grated, 400g raisins, a kilo of preserving sugar, 750ml cider vinegar and a spice mix (2 tsps each of ground cumin, ground coriander, pink peppercorns, mustard seeds, a tsp of cardamon pods, a generous tsp chilli flakes and a cinnamon stick) and a pinch of salt. I  boiled it up and then simmered for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. Then ladled it into 11 sterilised jars which have been stored in the pantry ready for Christmas boxes.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon in August.

Elderberry cordial


 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.


Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑