Browsing Tag

edible flowers

Food & Drink

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

June 27, 2015

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

This Elderflower cordial recipe was first published in 2010 and I’ve tried to find good recipes that cut the sugar content ever since as the original was quite heavy on it. Thanks to the River Cottage Preserves book I’ve finally found one that halves the sugar and have used it as detailed below.

elderflowers on the stone wallIn a good year Elderflowers start to appear in hedgerows across the country during May, however in 2010 it was early June and in 2015 ours were only just coming into bud towards the very end of June.

Wait until the blooms are full, creamy coloured and full of scent (they’re especially heady when picked in the evening).  As with any type of foraging, avoid collecting the flowers if they’re growing close to a busy road as they’re more likely to pick up pollution and don’t pick all the flowers. Take a few from different branches, leaving the rest to develop into berries that can be made into a winter tonic in the form of Elderberry syrup.

Elderflower Cordial Recipe, Revised | Greenside UpIf you spot the blossom but don’t have time to make the cordial (or jam, or whatever you’d like them for), you can freeze the heads.

I stored my cordial in sterilised screw topped wine bottles and it’s an ingredient that’s handy to have in the cupboard as summer recipes often call for it.

This recipe makes around 2 litres and it will be 24 hours before it’s ready.

25 heads of Elderflower
1 kg granulated sugar
1.5 litres boiling water
3 lemons & 1 orange, unwaxed. Finely grate the zest, save the juice (around 150 ml) then thinly slice
1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid (available from Chemists, optional but I’ve always added it)

Method

Shake the Elderflowers in case there are any insects lurking and put the blossoms in a large bowl.  Add the lemon and orange zest and the sliced lemons. Pour over the boiling water, cover and leave for 24 hours to infuse.

The next day, strain the infuse liquid into a saucepan through a coffee filter or clean muslin cloth then add the citric acid, lemon and orange juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved, then pour the syrup into sterilised bottles and seal.

We leave a bottle in the fridge and just add tap water but for a change it’s lovely when it’s diluted with sparkling water, or even better for the adults, with topic water and added to our favourite gin!

Have you used elder flowers in recipes before? Do you love or loathe them?

Food & Drink

Calendula officinalis: Edible flowers aren’t just for salads

September 10, 2014

Calendula officinalis - ancient, medicinal & edibleToday I was showing the autumn group of community gardeners at Freshford one of my favourite flowers in the vegetable garden, Calendula officinalis. Arguably one of the best companion plants around, Calendula, more commonly known as Pot Marigold, has an uplifting range of colours on the yellow to orange scale, continuously flowers throughout the summer months and has the ability to attract slugs as well as white and blackfly. This unfortunate trait makes it a handy sacrificial plant, or an indicator that there’s a problem pest in the garden but to be honest, apart from one white fly incident in a polytunnel, that’s not something I’ve really noticed in the years I’ve grown it.

Calendula officinalis - ancient, medicinal & edibleCalendula will always find a way into gardens I work with for its ability to attract pollinators, its vibrancy, and knowing that if I look at it often enough, one day I’ll finally get around to making the soft, healing hand and body lotions that Calendula is often associated with.

Calendula Seed Head

Calendula Seed Head – ready to harvest

At this time of year you might notice the petals falling off the plants and the seeds beginning to show themselves. As we’ve had such a dry spell recently, the seeds are setting naturally on the plants without rotting, something that often occurs during wet autumn days. The seeds can be gently removed and placed in brown envelopes, ready to sow again either in the springtime or undercover now for early flowering next year.

For centuries however, Calendula officinalis has been used medicinally in cultures around the world. According to Jekka McVicar’s Complete Herb Book, the inspiration behind the cupcake recipe below, there are some wonderful and ancient stories surrounding this herb. Among other tales, wreaths of Calendula were used to crown the gods and goddesses, the flowers added as an ingredient in love potions in medieval times and the leaves used in the American Civil War by doctors rushing around the battlefields treating open wounds.

For now however, I’ve been wearing a domestic hat and made the buns using the following recipe:

Calendula officinalis - ancient, medicinal & edibleCalendula Cup Cake Recipe

Makes 16

100g softened butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
2 tbls fresh Calendula petals

Preheat oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6

Put the butter, caster sugar, eggs and flower into a bowl or food processor and mix together until fully combined. Add the milk gradually (pulse if using a processor). Fold in 1½ tablespoons of the petals then spoon the mixture into paper bun cases. Sprinkle the remaining petals onto the top of each bun mixture and add a small sprinkling of sugar on top. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and place the buns on a wire tray to cool.

Calendula officinalis - ancient, medicinal & edibleThis is a handy little cupcake recipe regardless whether you add the petals or not. The buns are light and fluffy and given the history of calendula, with each small bite I felt like I was connecting with our past, and of course, they must be good for us if they contain a medicinal herb 😉

 

Are you a Calendula fan? Have you noticed it’s abilities as a companion plant or used it medicinally or in the kitchen?

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Vegetable Garden

Sunday Snap: Clever Calendula

June 30, 2013

Calendula

A flower full of sunshine on a grey day.

Calendula (also known as Pot Marigold) is one of half a dozen varieties of annual flowers grown from seed in our garden. We add the vibrant petals to salads and one day I keep promising myself I’ll make hand cream from the pretty blooms. It’s been used medicinally for centuries and can also act as a companion plant by attracting whitefly so is a great lure, keeping the tiny flies off your tomatoes or beans (make sure to wash before eating). Are you a fan of this garden favourite?

Food & Drink

How to Make Dandelion Honey

April 18, 2012

Recipe: How to Make Dandelion Honey

I adore dandelion clocks but have had a love/hate relationship with the plants themselves for years due to their pesky roots, until I discovered how beneficial they are for honey bees. We can also make a delicious dandelion honey using their vibrant, yellow flowers, a recipe that I’m sharing now.

As ‘weeds’ go, dandelions, are hugely beneficial as they attract pollinating insects at a time when most other flowers are yet to share their delicious nectar. Dandelions can be eaten, made into drinks of all descriptions and are loaded with vitamins and minerals, namely A, C and K as well as iron, potassium, calcium and manganese. They’ve also been around for over 30 million years – it’s no wonder their roots are so deep and strong!

Dandelion Clock

Photo credit: Catherine Drea, Foxglove Lane

Almost every child I know has heard the tale that they make you wet the bed (indeed I was taught the very same) which stems from the plant’s use as a strong diuretic, though the roots are used for this purpose, not the flowers.

It wasn’t until @zwartblesIE mentioned Dandelion Honey on twitter that I’d seriously considered using the flowers in the kitchen. Suzanna generously shared her recipe and if you’d like to try this intriguing sounding dish, here it is:

4 cups dandelion flowers
3 cups water
3 whole thick cut lemons
2 1/8 cups sugar

Place the flowers, water and lemons into a saucepan and simmer for 30 mins, leave to cool and stew overnight. In the morning strain through cheesecloth (or coffee filter paper) then bring the liquid to a slow boil, stirring in the sugar until dissolved, then slowly simmer for about one and a half hours and you have your honey.

dandelion honey recipeIf you start to notice the mixture turn darker, whip it off the heat quickly or it can develop a burnt caramel flavour.

If you’re feeling adventurous you could  try adding a few drops of vanilla essence as @NiamhMaher on twitter did, or a few drops of alcohol as @Justcallmelet suggested.

Honey is perhaps a misleading name as the resulting flavour is more like marmalade – guess it got its name from the gorgeous colour.

Have you ever tried food or drink made from dandelions? Did you enjoy it?