I’m hugely rubbish at making jam, and I didn’t really know how to preserve all the fruit we grow in the garden, or that we forage. My lovely neighbour, Caroline, suggested I make cordial, and she started a huge craze for the children and me – we have a freezer stuffed full of gooseberry, raspberry, strawberry, black currant and loganberry cordial.
Anyway, I keep being asked what recipe I use for the cordial, so I thought I’d put the blackberry one up here.
So…go pick your berries.
Take off any leafy bits, and as many elder stalks as you can bear before you go mad. Then give them a good wash in a colander (or a salt bath if you suspect any grubs).
Put them in a bloody big saucepan, cover with water, and add any spices or flavourings (I use a vanilla pod, or a bit of grated ginger, or cinnamon…whatever really. Oh! And we like star anise).
Bring to a rolling boil.
Once at the boil, turn down heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. No big drama if you do it for more, but I suspect you might lose some health-type aspects. If you’re just trying to stop drinking supermarket squash, I don’t suppose it matters massively.
After fifteen minutes, strain in a colander into a big jug (or a series of jugs. Oh God, or any old thing, I think I’m being needlessly prescriptive). Our pan’s too big for my daughters to tip, so they dip jugs in and transfer the cordial that way.
Once strained, put back into first receptacle, but measure it – you need to know how much liquid you have.
Right, then add 3lbs of sugar and 2oz citric acid to every 3.5 pints of liquid.
I use a mix of dark brown sugar and white (I like the caramel-ness of brown). At this stage, it will taste disgustingly sweet, and you’ll be tempted not to use all of the sugar. Fine, you don’t have to, but the sugar is acting as preservative, so the less the sugar, the quicker the mould.
Heat gently until sugar’s dissolved, leave to cool.
Once cool, bottle in portions you’d drink within a week, and keep in the freezer, or as cool as you can if your freezer’s diddy. Keep in fridge once opened. Bottle-wise, our local Medical Herbalist, Fiona Taylor, uses 1 or 2 pint milk cartons – we use old drinks bottles, then decant into glass bottles for presents or to drink ourselves).
And that’s it!
We use it as cordial-with-water, in a jug for meal times. If you don’t add the citric acid, you can freeze it in icecubes and flavour water (doesn’t taste like cordial), or as shots over ice-cream, or in gin or sparkling wine.
My neighbour (the one who started me off) drinks hers with hot water.
I hope to never, ever again buy squash from a supermarket. Suspect may be drinking just tap water come next March.
Um, anyway. I love cooking and making stuff, and always like hearing other people’s ideas and tips. If you fancy, you can write them below, or leave links to your own sites or whatever… country folk-lore a-go-go…
NB: Our chickarockas go mad for the pulped fruit, so that’s where ours ends up…happy birds!