The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam

 Autumn, Fermentation, Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Seasons, Winter  Comments Off on The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam
Sep 222011

This is the second part of the Sloe Trilogy where you use the same batch of sloes to make wine, vodka and fridge jam. In the first part I showed you how to make the wine, here are the instructions for the vodka.
Sloes in a glass
When you have strained the sloes off the wine ‘must‘ you can use them to flavour vodka. I suggest vodka for this because, unlike with gin, you don’t get that big juniper hit which may not be so nice in your breakfast jam.

If you’re coming into this without having made the wine, just use freshly picked sloes. You’ll need to squish them and this is easier to do if you freeze and thaw them first.

You’ll need a large container to make this in that you can sterilise and seal. A demijohn is great for it or a big kilner jar or similar. Pretty bottles that you can seal are a great way of presenting your finished vodka and make great presents. Continue reading »

Sep 042011

It’s apple harvesting time. You may be wondering what else you can do with nature’s bounty after the pies, chutneys, jellies and the like. While going through Sandor Katz’s book I mentioned in Fermenting Revolution 1 I saw home made vinegars.

Bottled Apple Cider Vinegar

And I’ve found that making vinegar really is very simple and the result is truly delicious.

What you do is to allow the chopped fruit to steep and then ferment in some sugar solution. With apples this makes cider. Then, with only a little luck, airborne acetobacter (bacteria that makes vinegar) will populate the cider and convert the alcohol into acetic acid. That’s it.

Want to know more? Then read on… Continue reading »

Aug 292011

Blackberry Apple Chilli Chutney

This produces a chutney that has a rich, intense and complex flavour: blackberry plus. And the colour is a deep vermilion that is striking on the plate.

I first used it as a condiment with a cheese platter and the sweet-sour-chilli flavours complemented the cheese and sourdough bread spectacularly.

I next used it to deglaze a frying pan after flash frying some sirloin steak. I then added a little creme fraiche, seasoning and the meat juices to make a rich fruity sauce for the steak.

I wanted to produce something with blackberries that wasn’t in the usual jam or jelly area and that could be used happily as a savoury accompaniment. I found some blackberry chutney recipes but none had the complexity of flavour I was looking for. So I made up my own recipe.

If you are really lucky you can forage and grow most of the ingredients, so it could truly be your chutney.

Like to have a go and treat your taste buds? Read on… Continue reading »

Aug 022011

I’ve been going a bit wild of late. More specifically, wild fermenting. And it’s all Sandor Katz’s fault. Let me explain.

Wild Fermentation Cover

I bought a Kindle version of Sandor’s book Wild Fermentation. It explains the science and practice of fermenting just about anything. Not only are fermented products tastier & healthier, they’re also a great way of preserving things sustainably. There’s no need for electricity to keep a freezer going, or to put large amounts of energy into heat for canning or bottling. The whole process relies on the ability of wild yeasts to modify the ingredients so they do not spoil. Sauerkraut, or pickled cabbage, is one of the most widely known examples. Another two are beer & wine which also caught my attention. And, of course, there’s sourdough bread which I already have a passion for.

So I’ve thrown myself into a mild fermenting frenzy. On the go is sauerruben (turnips), apple vinegar and T’ej, an Ethiopian-style Honey Wine. I’ll post some more information about these later. Today I want to talk to you about Bouza. Continue reading »

Jun 212011

Rotolo on the plateThis pasta is a bit of a show stopper. It looks just great on the plate and there are loads of variations you could make to the filling.

I’d often looked at the recipe in Jamie’s Italy and decided that it was a bit too much of a faff to do.  Then I saw the Rotolo that Maureen at Orgasmic Chef had created. I really liked the result she achieved and so determined to have a go myself. Of course, I wanted to do something a bit different to the recipe in the book with spinach and roasted squash.

I thought hard about colours and took the Italian Flag’s tricolor of green, white and red as my inspiration.

For the green I used our abundant (and free) nettles instead of the pasta.

For the white I used ricotta that I made.

And for the red I used tasty cherry tomatoes.

The nettle filling gives a unique ‘meaty-veggy’ taste with a great slight spicy edge. The tomatoes give a nice squish and flavour with slight acid balanced by the creamy cheese. The lemon-thyme butter was a lovely fresh tasting complement to the pasta.

Want to know how to make this? Read on… Continue reading »

Mar 312011

In January I posted this article on how to make sourdough bread. I was amazed at how much attention it generated. I was so pleased at how many people contacted me to say they’d started baking sourdough bread as a result. You’ll see by the button on the right that I’m now a member of the growing Real Bread Campaign too. Please check out their site for lots of really useful information.
Sourdough loaf, star slashSince then I’ve talked, tweeted and met with an exciting bunch of enthusiastic bakers, amateur and professional alike. As a result, the way I make my bread has changed a little from the way I described, so I thought an update might be helpful.

I’ve made changes in three main areas:

  • Hydration – the amount of water in proportion to dry ingredients
  • Wholemeal flour proportion
  • Baking process

I’ll describe each of these in turn… Continue reading »

Mar 312011

Don’t we all just love things that don’t cost a penny? Foraging for wild food is a way to do this. March is the ideal time to pick nutritious nettles which are jam packed with iron and Vitamin C. You’ve no doubt seen loads of recipes for the ubiquitous ‘Nettle Soup’, which is, of course, lovely. I wanted to cook something a bit different
Risotto on the plateI’ve adapted a simple Georgio Locatelli recipe for nettle risotto to perk up your taste buds. I’ve added the bacon as a seasoning and the dried tomatoes for flavour and visual interest to Georgio’s basic recipe but you can easily make a vegetarian version by leaving out the bacon and substituting for the parmesan.
So how do we cook it…
Continue reading »

Jan 152011

In this post I’ll show how I make sourdough bread at home. The recipe and technique is an amalgam of Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall (River Cottage Everyday) & Dan Lepard (The Handmade Loaf) plus some other stuff I’ve read online and my own experience.

Stop press: 31st March 2011 I’ve posted an update with some lessons & observations since this was published.
Sourdough loaf The post was prompted by a Twitter conversation with Ryan Lewis and Alys Fowler about making sourdough. Alys and I were encouraging Ryan to have a go at making it. I promised to do a ‘How To’ blog to show how simple it is to do.

It’s what I do at the moment and I’m an enthusiastic amateur. There are about as many methods as there are bakers. I’d welcome feedback from anyone who bakes for a hobby or professionally. I like to learn new stuff and I’m sure the comments would help others who come here.

The process of making the loaf takes just under 20 hours. This is essential for the loaf to develop its best flavour and texture. Don’t worry because you’re only doing a little bit of stuff every now and then and the timings are flexible.

Want to find out more? Read on… Continue reading »

Pizza Recipe with Oak Smoked Flour, Proscuitto and Olives

 Bread & baking, Pork, Recipes, Vegetable  Comments Off on Pizza Recipe with Oak Smoked Flour, Proscuitto and Olives
Dec 282010

I would like to deliver on a promise. I posted some pictures on Twitter yesterday of an olive and prosciutto pizza I made with Bacheldre Mill’s Organic Stoneground Oak Smoked Flour.  It was a 30cm (12 ins) deep pan style – the base was a great fluffy texture with a nutty taste.  The topping was redolent of hot Venetian afternoons outside looking at Vaporetto…Oak smoked pizza before bakeI received a very nice reply from Jethwa asking if I’d mind sharing the recipe. Of course, I’m happy to do so, here it is… Continue reading »

Chitting – not just for potatoes

 Permaculture, Spring  Comments Off on Chitting – not just for potatoes
Jan 212010

According to my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary ‘Chit’ comes from Middle English chithe, to shoot or sprout, corresponding to the Old Saxon kith.  So the word has roots (sorry) that go back 1200 years or so.  Certainly, it wasn’t a new concept even then.

Chitting is a form of ‘pre-sprouting’ of seeds before you plant them in a growth medium such as compost or soil.  Most gardeners are familiar with doing this for ‘seed’ potatoes which are, of course, tubers.

Basil seedlingsAnyway, we first stumbled across doing this for other seeds when experiencing the normal frustrations of getting parsley to germinate in pots or in the soil.  We decided to grow them on kitchen paper towels to see which ones germinated and get an idea of germination rates.  We could then assess whether the seed was bad or whether the germinated seed were dying later on.  To our surprise, we got nearly 100% germination.  Here’s a box of chitted basil seeds 12 days after ‘sowing’.

What’s cool about chitting is that you can see what’s going on and then plant into compost etc.  It also avoids the need for thinning out.  The downside is that the sprouted seeds are very fragile and easy to damage and you have to keep an eye out so the seeds don’t go too far.  The more growth they put on the fragile roots grow into the paper which makes them difficult to get out safely: as you will see…The basil seeds above have gone a bit far.

So that’s what I did this morning, plant on chitted seeds of lettuce leaf basil, coriander and curly & flat parsley… Continue reading »

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