Monday, July 14, 2014
It is finally that time. We have been waiting eagerly for the elderflowers to bloom, and as we were driving around last week, we knew that the weekend would be our prime opportunity. I cannot remember a year when the elderflowers were so prolific. I am not sure if they are just boasting that they survived our frigid winter or if the county simply has not gotten to mowing them down yet, regardless, it led to quite a bounty!
Elderflowers make our favorite cordial and Charlie especially has been asking after it since mid-March. We drove the county roads and walked some railroad tracks and easily collected nine grocery sacks full of perfect flower heads. After hours of separating them from their stems, the result was a five gallon crock full of flowers that are going to spend the next several days steeping in a simple syrup/acid mixture and becoming cordial.
We were just in a foraging kind of mood yesterday and we decided to hike back into the heavily wooded part of our property to the black raspberry bramble that was just starting a couple of years ago. I am happy to say, that it has turned into a very large bramble that we traipsed through collecting four pounds of ripe berries.
Last winter while we were surviving the 'polar vortex', I came across an article about berry shrubs. Then a couple of weeks ago I was reminded about them when julochka posted that she had just made some. These fresh drink mixes were used primarily prior to refrigeration as a way to preserve an abundance of fruits and were drank as a precursor to soda. The concoction is fresh fruit, sugar and vinegar. There are several recipes out there, but we went for it a bit on our own. We took quart mason jars and filled them to just below the shoulder with berries, then dissolved 2 cups of sugar in 2 cups of vinegar. We did one cup apple cider vinegar, and one cup of our homemade red wine vinegar. Poured the mixture over the berries to fill the jars, where they will sit for a week or so before use.
The four pounds of black raspberries yielded four quarts of shrub. We did an additional quart using our first gooseberries of the season. I can't wait to take a taste, I have a feeling that there will be many more shrubs made as the garden progresses!
Speaking of the 'polar vortex' I hope this possibility does not affect our tomatoes ripening!