Friday, 13 June 2008

Elderflowers and a hotch-potch of photos

This week I have been Doing Things with Elderflowers. We have two big bushes at the bottom of the yard, so I don't have to go far to pick them. I made some Elderflower Champagne first, which I shall strain and bottle today, and then yesterday afternoon I made some Elderflower handcream. It is brilliant when you have gardener's hands, or get those awful deep splits on your fingers when it gets really cold in the depths of winter. Today it will be some Elderflower Wine getting started off, and I hope to make some Syrup too.

The handcream-cum-salve is very simple to make. Take a 500g (1lb) block of lard - or whatever base you may choose to use. Melt is in a large pan and place in the fat as many elderflower heads as you can immerse. Make sure that they are FRESHLY opened flowers and not the slightly yellowing ones which have been open a few days, as they will pong like tomcats! Heat on the lowest of low heats for about 30 - 40 mins. The flowers will turn brown, but it should not sizzle. Turn off heat, and remove the flowers with a slotted spoon (put on compost heap). Add about 20 drops of your favourite essential oil (I used Lavender) and stir, before pouring into shallow pots. I am fortunate to have been given a bag load of these by my b-in-law. They used to contain an expensive French? butter I believe! I have been making this recipe for over 20 years now, and can thank a contributor to Farmhouse Fare, my absolute bible of everything to do with farmhouse food and still room skills. I believe it is a very very old recipe, as something very similar was made in the wonderful Tales from the Green Valley programs, only they used Elder leaf-buds and claimed they were making it in January (no way would you get Elder putting out leaves so early).

I have also bottled some Crab Apple Wine which I had in a demijohn. It is really clear and tasted fab when I got a sip as I syphoned it. I really enjoy winemaking, and it is a good way of saving a bit of summer sunshine for the darkest winter days. I have lots of Sloes still in my freezer (and taking up room). I think I will make some Sloe Jelly soon, and perhaps some Sloe Wine. I have a gut feeling we're not going to have a bumper Sloe harvest this year, so I will save some for Sloe Gin later on.

This is the photo which got left out yesterday - the corner of the garden where I have extended the border and am planting up with Delphiniums, Hollyhocks, Aquilegia and whatever I can fit in!

This was the sunset as we came over the hill into our valley last night. My son rolled his eyes when I stopped the car and took photos!

This was my new plant as of yesterday - I just couldn't resist (I was feeling a bit miserable, so it was My Treat). I planted it next to my lovely Rosa Mundi.

This is for GTM - and only shows about 2/3 of the extent of my Paul's Himalayan Musk rose. Don't say I didn't warn you GTM!

But PHM's so beautiful, you can forgive her anything . . .


Roses and Lilacs said...

Wandered onto your blog because your profile said you liked old houses, gardening, books and cats. Me too.

Enjoying your site. I'm intrigued about car boot sale. Please tell me what that is. I'm from the states and have never heard the phrase. Maybe what we call a flea market with a few tables and things set on the ground in parking lots?

Mam said...

Great Post, Jennie. I'm loving your flowers. the last sunset picture is awesome. The lavender you put in with the elder flower salve is also a good skin conditioner. I'd love to try that.

Bovey Belle said...

Nancy - I didn't know that the Lavender was a good skin conditioner too. That's a stroke of luck! I add it to my home-made beeswax furniture polish too.

Roses and lilacs - great to meet you. A Car Boot Sale is a bit like a flea market - though over here a flea market would be more in the line of specifically "collectables" (cheapest end of antiques market). A Car Boot Sale is when lots of people drive to the venue (often a field!) and set up their (wallpaper pasting!) tables with whatever they have to sell - sometimes it's worth having, other stuff is absolute junk and goes home with them again. You pay a set amount £5 - £7 to use the venue. Haste ye back.

Rowan said...

PHM is beautiful and has the same territorial ambitions as my Rambling Rector by the looks of it. I should have picked elderflowers yesterday when I thought about it - this morning it's raining so I'll have to wait for the next dry day now.