So... we seem to have caught the preserving/canning bug! Perhaps it's some deep seated need to hunker down and stock the stores now we're newlyweds, and staring our thirties in the face, but I'm fairly sure it's mainly because we're greedy gourmands, and like delicious food - all - year - round! ;)
It all began to simmer a bit in us a year or so ago when Ryan bought me "Canning for a New Generation" which was beautiful, but I didn't have much time to sit and read it (until now)... and recently, our friend Claire showed us an amazing book she had bought by Diana Henry, called "Salt Sugar Smoke", which is DIVINE (and beautifully styled by the super talented Laura Edwards), and really got our juices going - we found a copy ourselves for a song in TK Maxx, (where we get all our best home bargains!).
We're planning a Summer Garden party in August, to celebrate my big 3-0, and wanted to make all sorts of delicious food and drink for our guests. The idea of making yummy infused syrups and spirits for our drinks, and elderflower cordial or champagne from our huge Elderflower bush at the back of the garden seemed not only a budget friendly option, but a creative, inspiring and fun option, too! So - we've made a start...
So far, we have raided Lakeland (hello, cooks/foodie heaven!) stocking up on some huge mason jars, and started a Strawberry Gin, a Rhubarb & Vanilla infused Vodka, a Rhubarb Sharbaat, and a Vin de Myrtille (blueberries, to you and I)... it's been so much fun, and we love watching the jewel toned colours deepen and infuse each day.
Today, we waited until the rain subsided (yes, I know, there might just be an indoor summer party the way things are shaping up this Summer!) and squelched up the garden to pick the just blossomed Elderflowers. A quick shake off, and they were placed in a bowl with three unwaxed lemons, cut in to slices, after their peel was removed with a peeler, also included in the bowl... then, we brought 1.5KG (yes, I know! wow) of sugar to the boil with I.5L water, and then poured the hot syrup over the flower heads and lemons. It all fitted perfectly in to my big antique baking bowl, and then we stirred in 75g of Citric Acid. Everyone says you can get citric acid in any chemist, but I couldn't get it in a large Boots, so went to my local independent chemist, where I had more luck.
All we have to do now is cover the bowl, and leave in a dark place for 24 hours, before straining and decanting in to jars tomorrow! I think we are going to hot process our jars so they last longer than five weeks, and then we are done... it will make litres and litres of delicious summer drinks, not bad for the price of a bag and a half of sugar and a few lemons, egh?
Have a go while the Elderflowers are still in bloom... they're everywhere once you notice them!