Pretty Primroses

Our garden is full of primroses this year. We had none at all when we first moved here, but a couple of years ago, mum kindly let us take a few clumps of primroses that had self-seeded on her lawn, and they have since multiplied in our own back garden.

p2

I love primroses. Their delicate yellow or pink flowers belie their hardy, vigorous nature and they can bloom for weeks on end.

p3

I only recently made the discovery, however, that primroses are edible. Both the leaves and the flowers can be eaten, so a little culinary experimentation might be on the cards this coming Easter weekend.

I’ll keep you posted…

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Blackberry Syrup: A Natural Cold Remedy

I wanted to do something different with the blackberries I’d picked from the hedgerows this year and was rather intrigued when I came across a recipe for Blackberry Syrup, an old-fashioned remedy for coughs and colds.

Blackberries

I altered the recipe slightly before whipping up a bottle of the stuff.  I’m now setting myself the challenge of getting through the winter season without reaching for my usual aspirin-laden cold relief!

Blackberry Syrup 1

The syrup combines blackberries, which are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, with white wine vinegar and honey, both known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties. I’m a big believer in feeding yourself healthy, of eating the right things to counter any ailment or imbalance, so I’ll be interested to see if this curious concoction with all its health-boosting ingredients, manages to banish the inevitable sniffles this winter.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Making Blackberry Syrup

BLACKBERRY SYRUP

450 g blackberries
280 ml white wine vinegar
225 g sugar
115 g honey

Place the blackberries in a bowl (glass or china preferably, to avoid staining) and pour the vinegar over. Leave to stand for at least 24 hours, stirring and pressing the berries regularly.

Strain the mixture through muslin, squeezing out as much juice as you can, into a saucepan.

Bring to the boil.

Add the sugar, stirring constantly to ensure it all dissolves, and then add the honey, continuing to stir well.

Bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes before leaving to cool.

Store in a bottle or in ice-cube trays in the freezer.

Add 1-2 tablespoons to a glass of hot water before bed.

(Click here for a print-friendly version. Adapted from the Blackberry Syrup recipe included in this collection.)

Elderflower Cordial

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d been eyeing up the gorgeous elderflowers in the hedgerows on my walk to work and had plans to use some of it. This weekend, I finally got around to it, and a good thing too, as I don’t think the blossoms are going to be around for that much longer in this part of the country.

elderflowers

On Friday evening, I stopped at the chemist to buy some citric acid for my recipe but was told they’d just sold out. So I got up early on Saturday morning to try my luck at the chemist around the corner from our house.

“You’re making elderflower cordial?” The chemist said with a wry smile as soon as I asked if he sold citric acid. He told me it had been flying off the shelves recently. (So it seems I’m not the only forager in the neighbourhood – useful to know!) I bought the last two boxes and Ade and I headed to the  canal, armed with a pair of secateurs.

As soon as I got home with my bag of fragrant blossom, I started making elderflower cordial using this recipe.

Infusing

I let it steep for over 24 hours then strained and bottled it this afternoon. We just tried some poured over ice with still water and it’s delicious! A true taste of English summer. We have family coming up to stay with us this week and I’m looking forward to serving it with sparkling wine as an aperitif, elderflower fizz!

ElderflowerCordial

I also had a visit from our lovely neighbour, Donna, while I was infusing my elderflowers yesterday. She gave me a bag full of ripe and juicy cherries which she’d just picked from her allotment – a welcome present indeed seeing as the young cherry tree in our back garden will probably give us half a dozen cherries if we’re lucky.

While I ponder what to do with the cherries, we’re still harvesting plenty of green veggies from the allotment which I’m throwing into pasta and stir-fries. They also taste great in my Risotto Primavera.

Busy times in the kitchen just now!

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