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Archive for June, 2009

elderflower jelly

Posted by --- on Saturday 20 June, 2009

Elderflower Jelly Recipe

  • 2.5 kg cooking apples, washed and roughly chopped (you can also use 1kg crab apples)
  • 20 elderflower heads, roughly chopped
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 75g sugar per 100ml liquid
  1. Place the apples and the elderflower in a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with just enough water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until very soft.
  3. Pour into a jelly bag or a sieve lined with several layers of muslin and allow to drain into a bowl (do not be tempted to squeeze the bag as this will only make the jelly cloudy.)
  4. The following morning discard the fruit (I tend to freeze them to make pies later) then measure the volume of the liquid and add 75g sugar per 100ml of fluid.
  5. Place the fruit juice, lemon juice and the sugar in a saucepan and heat through, then add the sugar stirring until completely dissolved.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly for about 15 minutes.
  7. Test for setting by placing a plate in the fridge. Spoon a little of the jelly onto the plate, allow to cook then move it with your fingernail. If a crinkly skin forms then the jelly is ready. If not continue boiling for 5 minutes more and test again.
  8. Skim the surface then ladle into sterilized jars that have been warmed in an oven set to 100°C for 5 minutes. Allow 1cm of head space then secure the lid, allow to cool and store.

My method Changes.

To remove the flowers from the stems I used a fork and because I love the taste of elderflowers, I filled a medium bowl with flowers. The heads had wilted so it was difficult to tell if I was using large or small heads but it was way more than 20 – at least double that.

I put the fruit pulp into a mulsin lined seive but after 8 hours I wasn’t happy that all of the juice had drained out so I gathered the edges of the muslin, tied it with a shoelace and hung it from the cooker extracter overnight and quite a lot more juice drained out.

I used 4 tbsp of lemon concentrate becuase I had no more lemons.

I read that the temperature for jam setting is 220F so instead of testing with a cold plate, I used a thermometer. I did do a plate test which wasn’t crinkling but I put it in jars anyway.

I used the oven to sterilise the jars as it says here but I must have had it too hot (the problem with my oven) and when I put the jelly into the jars it boiled on contact. I put a spoon in the jar to try to stop it from cracking but still lost one jar. I also melted the rubber lining on the metal lids in the oven!

Early Results:

This tastes more of apple with hardly a trace of elderflower. I was really disappointed becuase I wanted it to taste like the cordial.

This recipe made far too much for us too and used up all of my remaining seven jars. I don’t think it will get eaten; DSK tried it and hates how sweet it is. They say that about all of my jams.

Update on the taste trials July 2009:

DFS and others love this jelly. I can now taste the much loved elderflowers. It will be on my list for next year!

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Elder flower time again.

Posted by --- on Wednesday 17 June, 2009

This past week I’ve been driving around looking for accessible elderflowers that aren’t growing next to the busy main roads or motorways that surround me. I managed to spot some on a housing estate so I screeched to a halt, parked on the verge, pulled a carrier bag out of the boot and ignored the strange looks I got from local residents. I came home with a carrier bag full and spent the night stripping the flowers off with a fork. I then browsed the web for recipes andI used the recipe I used for the cordial last year andthe champagne recipe from river cottage :

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Pineapple Jam

Posted by --- on Monday 15 June, 2009

2 pineapples – peeled, cored and chopped finely
1lb sugar per lb of fruit ( I used a 1kg bag)
2 lemons.  Use all parts (zest, juice. Roughly chop reamins and place in muslin bag)

Place fruit in pan with sugar, the lemon  zest and juice and heat gently to disolve the sugar.

My attempt didn’t go to plan and ended up simmering for a few hours. I began rapid boiling for 5 minutes, testing and reboiling for a further 5 minutes if it didnt look as if it was going to set. I tested the setting point but I really haven’t got the hang of it and boiled it for ages.

Early results are that DDJ whom I made it for doesn’t like it. I dont mind it but woudln’t rave about it. It’s pretty much citrusy like marmalade.

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Machine knitting

Posted by --- on Friday 12 June, 2009

I’ve bought a knitting machine. It’s great. It does everything and it does it fast! I can’t use it…

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Lavender swirls.

Posted by --- on Thursday 11 June, 2009

Decided to make soap today. Everything went wrong, rats had eaten half my ingredients in the shed, I couldn’t understand how to add things or when, and I’d ran out of olive oil! Spent all morning researching how to melt colour to add to soap. tried looking up wax crayons etc. Found lots of references to adding chips or crayons but no methods. Decided to sod it and take the plunge… Concerned because ingredients aren’t cheap! Recipe: 24-28 oz water 12 oz lye 55 oz olive oil 16 oz palm oil 16 oz coconut oil halved and amended to allow for depleted stock and no mold that big! Converted to metric 12 oz/ 790g distilled water 6 oz / 170 g lye 27 oz / 760g olive oil (had to go to Asda) 8oz / 225g palm oil 80 oz / 225g coconut oil 3 tbs of home dried lavender heads 3 bottles of lavender oil (bought over last few years from discount shops) 1 plum purple colour chip (from candle making supplies bought from ebay) Dilema; how to melt wax chip…. placed it in a small amount of olive oil from recipe. Put it in a dish over a pan of simmering water while heating fats and mixing lye. Used gloves but no apron or goggles as per normal because I couldnt find them! Put all solid fats and half the olive oil in a pan on a low heat to melt.Left remainder of olive oil to add once others have melted to cool them. Put water in plastic jug added lye, mixed, got a whiff, couged, placed jug on window sill while I went outside for fresh air! Ran cold water in the sink continually with the plug half in and placed lye jug and melted fats pan in low level cold water to cool whilst alternately stirring and temp checking. Added lye solution to fats when lye was 107 degrees and fats were 103. Began to stir……. Took colour off heat but it kept setting so had to place over bowl of hot water and keep replacing water – remember to leave on heat in future. An hour later (with detours to collect a book to read, let dog out, etc) light trace was reached. Added fragrance oil Another 10 minutes stirring; added lavender flowers. A further 15 minutes and the trace is thicker (not thick) added small amount of soap mix to bowl of colour and stirred. Poured colour mix into soap mix, gave minimal mix (dragged spoon from one side of pan to the other in four different directions. E.g. north to south, east to west etc). Poured into lined box at 2.25pm. Can’t wait to see tomorrow.

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Sewing revival

Posted by --- on Monday 8 June, 2009

I’ve found by looking around the internet that I’m not crazy for wanting to use reusable nappies or menstrual products and that there are thousands if not millions out there already doing it! Not only that but the square folding terry nappies I’d used as the occasional nappy for my other three children have evolved into much improved garments and the sanitary belt I remember my mom having have transformed into pretty (or not so pretty) things with wings! I’ve found tons of patters for nappies and sanitary products so have dug out my sewing machine. It’s an old toyota EC1 2260 model that DFS bought me but its hasn’t had much use. In the past I’ve made everything from curtains to lingere; my first son had most things home made including coats and I collected every pattern I could.  Three years ago while doing my nurse training I figured I didn’t have time and sold all of my loved patterns on ebay to make space. There were literally hundreds; I’d bought lots and I had every Prima magazine or other sewing machine magazines from the early 90’s.  I sold them all as a job lot for less than £10 and now I’m absolutely gutted.

I got sidetracked .. Ive pulled my machine out and got a copy of the manual which I’ll try and link to from here. I’ve cleaned it and oiled it and it sounds better than it ever did. Next I’ve tried to find fabric to use. What a nightmare. I wish I lived in the US, they seem to have everything I want whenever I do a project and we have naff all. We have one local fabric stall on our market that I went to (very reluctantly) when I was in my teens. The chap who runs it hates his job and seems to dislike his customers. If you walk near the stall he jumps up as soon as you look in the vague direction of his fabric and asks “can I help?” If say you’re just looking, he stands next to you and then he follows you if you move as if you are going to steal a roll. Bear in mind that this stall is about  5  metres long and you only have access to the front. The rolls are piled up with the ends facing you without prices or information which is a nightmare for someone like me that doesn’t know what the types of fabric that I want are; I used to make things out of the fabric I liked the look of not whether it was a polyester cotton or “wicked water away” .  The last time I went past the stall I noticed it was for sale so it might not even be there now. I went to our local Dunelms which no longer has a fabric department, then I drove to another Dunelms which also has closed it’s fabric department! I rang another to make sure they had fabric first but went over and found it all to be furnished fabric. So now I’m on the hunt for a cheap (note: cheap!) fabric shop or stall in the midlands/staffordshire. Anyone got any suggestions? I’m not far from Birmingham so I was thinking of going over to the rag market but I hate the thought of the motorway, trying to find my way into the city centre and then trying to park.

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