Cooking up trouble in the kitchen…

So, today I finally made the time to deal with the dish of hawthorn berries that have been sitting in the pantry for about the last week, looking woefully at me every time I walk to the fridge.  I decided to have a go at hawthorn berry syrup, a recipe that I have not tried before.   The recipe calls for 500g of hawthorn berries – and whaddaya know, I just happened to have exactly the right amount after having used up about half what I picked the other day when I made up a bottle of hawthorn brandy.   As an aside, the brandy is currently sitting in a kilner jar in the pantry, waving at me every time I go past!  Anyhow, back to the original topic of the post.  Hawthorn berry syrup.   Dump the 500g of berries into a pan and add 500mls of water, then bring to the boil, boil for a couple of minutes and mash.   It smells kinda weird at first, but the scent of berries soon starts to appear.   Vaguelly reminiscent of rosehips, actually – another fruit that I shall be making syrup from sometime over the next couple of weeks, should time permit.   With the hawthorn berry syrup recipe, I am now at the ‘cover and leave overnight’ stage, though as I started the brew off first thing in the morning, I may simply leave it to this evening instead and sort it out after I get back from this afternoon’s meeting.   I’m now sitting and enjoying a cup of hot winter berry elixir – a syrup that I thought had gone mouldy, started to pour down the drain and realised that actually it still tasted just fine.   So I’ve rebottled it and now have 500mls of it in a lovely brown glass bottle, just waiting for my attention later on this autumn.  I love cooking with hedgerow food – there is something so satisfying about picking the fruits and then mucking around in the kitchen with them.  Ultimately it was this that originally got me into the whole herbalism malarky, a passion of mine that I can’t imagine life without, now!Crataegus fructusAbove is a picture I took last autumn of a local hawthorn tree covered in berries.   They are pretty distinctive, especially in October, when they are generally smothered in berries.  It’s a pretty long job picking enough berries to do anything with though, so would probably present a great opportunity to drag some friends out with you.   Picking always seems to go more swiftly when you have good company at the same time!

Hawthorn berries are generally used as a fantastic heart tonic, and this syrup will be no exception.  I suspect it will probably be pretty tasty drizzled onto sponge cake as well, or over icecream – might as well add SOME health giving benefits to the finer things in life, eh! 😉

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