Monday, January 27, 2014

Sparkling fruit drinks. January 27,2014

In November last year I wrote a post about making Elderflower cordial and also a sparkling drink from the flowers as well. I have recipes for other sparkling drinks to make from rhubarb, lemon , cherry or rose ptals but have only tried the rhubarb version and found it a bit sweet for my liking. just before New Year, I made some of the lemon version which is ready for drinking now. It is so easy and so tasty that I made another batch on the weekend.It should be ready in a few weeks. One day I might experiment with some other fruit, maybe kiwi fruit as it looks like we will have an abundant crop this winter.
Sparkling Lemon
Begin by dissolving 3.5 cups of sugar in 4 cups of boiling water in a large food safe plastic container  about 6 litre capacity. Add 4.5 cups of roughly chopped lemons, 16 cups cool water and 200 ml of cider vinegar. Cover with a tea towel or lid and sit for 48 hours.
 Strain and bottle in PET plastic bottles and seal. Wait at least 2 weeks until the fizz develops then keep in fridge or freezer until ready to drink.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sauerkraut and Sour Cherries. January 12, 2014

I have an abundance of red cabbages rapidly maturing in the garden, maturing to the point of starting to split. I decided it was time to act and make something with one of the bigger ones. I have tried sauerkraut before with ordinary cabbage and wasn't particularly happy with the result. Particularly after my home made pressing device crashed and cracked the crock I was making it in! So after a bit of googling recipes, I found a method of making a small amount of sauerkraut in a preserving jar without the need for pressing other than opening the lid and pushing down on the top to ensure the liquid stays over the top of the kraut. I made the first batch about 10 days ago and then as it appeared to be working well, I made another batch last week. The difference between this method and the traditional method is that after shredding the cabbage, you add a couple of tablespoons of salt and then give it a head start by massaging the cabbage to break down the fibres before packing into the jar.  Now I just sit it in a dark corner of the kitchen and give it a daily press down. I am hoping to recognise when it is ready and then might try to heat preserve it in Fowlers jars to make it last for months rather than having to store all of it in the fridge. It looks very colourful anyway!

Our local cherry farm is now harvesting the beautiful sweet cherries that they grow. The farmer rang me the other night to tell me that "my" Morello cherry tree planted by his uncle, the previous owner for me, was ready for harvesting too. So the next day, I set off with containers and stripped the tree as best I could. 3.5 kg later, I brought them home and then spent the next hour or so pipping them. As well as freezing them for cooking later in the year, this year I tried something different. I experimented with bottling some in the microwave. It only took 3 minutes per jar in pop top jars which suck in as the vacuum develops on cooling. That way you know you have a perfect seal. The jars only had a couple of centimetres of water in the bottom when I packed the fruit so it is mainly natural juices that they are bottled in.
Hopefully they won't lose too much flavour by being heated but it will save on freezer space anyway!