This week I have been busy cooking up trouble in the kitchen again! Not only have I made two flower tinctures, one of White Archangel flowers and one of Hawthorn flowers, but I have also made a rather gorgeous Ginger syrup with some scrumptious fresh root Ginger from the local vegetable shop, and the first batch of wine of the spring, which for the minute I am calling Beltane Blessing due to the large amount of Hawthorn flowers in it.
I didn’t really use quantities as such for this – just grabbed one large ginger root from the shop, and about a pint and a half of filtered water. Slice the ginger root reasonably thinly, and dump into the pan, then cover with the water and bring to the boil. Simmer for a good 20 minutes to get all the gorgeous ginger flavour and taste out of the roots, then cool and leave overnight. The next day, bring back to the boil again for another 20 minutes, cool a little and filter out the ginger root slices through a sieve. Don’t throw away the ginger – last year I added my spent slices of ginger root to Elderberry syrup and the result was absolutely delicious! I’ve put the slices used for this batch of syrup into a pot in the freezer, to be dug out and used later on. I may try candying the next lot. But enough of my distraction, back to the recipe! Once you’ve filtered out the ginger root, measure out roughly how much of the ginger decoction you have. I had about 600mls and added 600g of sugar to it, put the whole lot back in the pan and heated it, stirring until the sugar melted. Bring to the boil – keep stirring, as you really don’t want the sugar to burn – and boil for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat and allow to cool until you can pour it into bottles. I love ginger syrup – it works an absolute treat poured over icecreams and sponges, mixed into home made lemonade in the summer with mint added, or added to other fruit in james, sorbets and other delights. It should keep fairly well in the fridge for a reasonable amount of time! Sweet, firey, with a delightfully fresh flavour, this is a great syrup to keep in store and make regularly, especially in the summer months.
Beltane Blessing Wine
Now, this was a bit of an experiment on my part. I have not made any wine in a little while now – the Rosehip wine started in January is still fermenting, surprisingly enough – so this was the first batch started this spring, and hopefully marks the beginning of great things. I started off with a couple of litres of hawthorn blossoms, which are rather labour intensive to pick but delightfully relaxing as well, and the hedges are so totally smothered in blossoms at the moment that there’s more than enough to go round. I put the flowers into a gallon bucket and added a couple of kettles full of boiling filtered water, then dumped in 300g of mixed, chopped fruit and left the whole lot overnight. This afternoon, I boiled it all up for 20 minutes to really bring out the flavour, then let it cool, trained out the fruit and flowers and put the wine back into a pan on the hob. I added a good three or four tablespoons of lemon juice and a kilo of sugar – one bag, basically, to nearly 3 litres of wine must, as I want a fairly sweet wine. Warm through until the sugar dissolves, then take off the heat, add your previously activated wine yeast and put the whole lot into a clean demi john, with an airlock. Mine is now sitting happily next to the rosehip wine and has just started to bubble. The must itself tasted rather lovely – fruit underpinned with the musky, vanilla flavour of hawthorn flowers – and I have quite high hopes of a pleasant few bottles of wine when it has finished fermenting!
Last but not least, I’ve made up two flower tinctures. The White Archangel flowers smelled absolutely divine when I put them into the kilner jar – a heady combination of honey, vanilla, milk and a faint hint of cantaloupe melon. I’m really hoping the completed tincture will have kept the scent as part of the finished flavour, and will report back in another week when it has finished steeping. The hawthorn flower tincture smells strongly of vanilla and musk, a more pleasant version of the hedgerows which can get rather overpowering at times! I’ll report on both of these tinctures when they have finished infusing.
Happy spring, everyone!!