More on Foraging and on Local Produce

Inspired by the books I listed last week I thought I’d give the rose petal conserve a go, but instead of using wild rose petals, I used domestic rose petals. I picked 2 big flowers of a pink rose outside my front door which has a very light, slightly citrus scent, then added 2 heads of a centifolia shrub rose with full-on proper rose scent. This, compressed slightly, added up to 1/2 pint petals. I took the bitter heels off… this was easy with the tea roses because I just pulled the head off and snipped the base away. Quick and easier than foraging. I heated 1/2lb sugar in 45ml water plus 2 tbs lemon juice to make a syrup, then added the rose petals. I didn’t think this was enough so I added another centifolia head.). I wish I’d used 30ml water because it took a long time to cook, and I’m sure I lost fragrance as a result. Also, I think I could have got away with adding even more petals. I ended up with a very heavy syrup, almost a toffee of roses, the lemon flavour coming through strongly. I jarred this in lumpfish roe jars. And a paste jar. It was a bit of a faff so I might just use one jar next time, and hope it doesn’t go off.

The more I think about it, the more I have decided to do a less gooey syrup, or at least, cook it for less time so that it doesn’t concentrate too much. The conserve I made is very thick and I think I’d prefer something the density of golden syrup.

The taste reminds of Turkish Delight, which of course is flavoured with rose and lemon.

I picked a lot of elderflowers to make into syrup for cordial. That was very heavy in pollen so I don’t think it’s good for hay fever sufferers. I made nearly 2.5 l. The rest of the elderflowers I used to make Elderflower fizz, half the quantity in the recipe, and put it in old plastic pop bottles. It’s supposed to use natural yeasts on the flowers themselves, which made me slightly uneasy, especially as for a couple of days there were no bubbles and the bottles remained floppy. Now though, some sort of fermentation is happening, and the bottles have taken on a slight turgidity. Some recipes say leave for a week; this recipe says three weeks and it should be ready. I will be careful because as a child I made this in glass cider bottles which exploded. The plastic bottles are safer but the caps could be dangerous if the drink is too fizzy.

I included some rose petals and chive heads as well as nasturtiums in a couple of salads, and they were fine.

Today, fairly local to us, I discovered a place selling home-pressed apple juice. They will even press your own apples, which seems like a very good idea. I bought a couple of bottles to try.  www.hillholmejuice.co.uk.

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