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Recipes

Gooseberry and Lemon Verbena Cordial

Pale and translucent in colour, this cordial has a sharp and fragrant bite to it.

400g/13oz gooseberries
280g/9oz caster sugar
1 litre/13/4 pints water
6 sprigs lemon verbena

Wash the gooseberries under cold running water, then place in a pan with the sugar and water.

Bruise the lemon verbena by gently hitting it with a rolling pin or the handle of a knife. This helps to intensify and release the flavour. Add the branch to the pan and place over a medium heat.

Bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes or until the gooseberries are tender.

Pass through a colander, pressing down firmly on the fruit as you do so to release maximum flavour.

Allow to cool and store in the fridge.

 

Elderberry wine

This has to be one of the top five forager drinks to make…

Ingredients:

  • 1.5kg Elderberries.
  • 1.5kg Sugar
  • 1tsp Citric Acid.
  • 4.5l Water
  • Yeast and Nutrient

Method:

  1. Strip the berries from the stalks using a fork.
  2. Crush them in a bowl and pour on the boiling water and add the sugar.
  3. Let it cool to 21? then add the yeast, nutrient and citric acid.
  4. Loosely cover for 3 days and then decant into dark bottles (stops the wine losing its colour) and leave with either an air lock or cotton wool until the vigorous ferment has completed.
  5. Once the ferment has completed siphon off into the final dark bottles to lay down for a minimum of 6 months.
  6. Enjoy on its own or as an addition to a summer martini!

N.B. If you don’t have any dark bottles for the initial ferment then we put the wine into demi-johns and then wrapped them in newspaper to keep the light out.

Strawberry and Gooseberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 150-200g gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 1kg strawberries, hulled, large ones halved
  • 750-1kg jam sugar with added pectin (the more sugar you use, the firmer the set of the jam)
  • 15-20g unsalted butter (optional)

Directions

Put the gooseberries in a saucepan with 100ml water.  Place on  a low heat and cook gently until the gooseberries are tender but still holding their shape. This should take 6-7 minutes, depending on their size and maturity. Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a roomy, heavy-based pan or a preserving pan. The fruit should be no more than a third of the way up the pan to allow for a rapid rise when a rolling boil is reached.  When the gooseberries are cooked, add to the strawberries. Put the preserving pan on a gentle heat and add the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has fully dissolved. Then increase the heat and bring the pan to a full rolling boil (i.e. when the surface is covered with a mass of foamy bubbles). Boil for 8-9 minutes, without stirring too much, until setting point is reached.  To check for setting point, drop a little jam onto a cold saucer, allow to cool for a minute then push gently with your fingertip.  If the jam crinkles, setting point has been reached.  Remove the jam from the heat and, if the surface is scummy, add a knob of butter and keep stirring until the scum has dissolved. Pot into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately. Label when cold. Unopened and stored in a cool, dry place, the jam will keep for up to a year. Once opened, keep in the fridge or a cool larder and use within a few weeks.

Elderflower Champagne

Elderflower champagne has to be some of the easiest alcohol I’ve ever made. Make sure you pick the flowers on a warm dry day and in the morning if possible as this is when the pollen is fresh and will produce a nicer brew. Apparently if you pick the flowers on a cold wet day and some even say not to pick in the afternoon / evening  then you may end up with your brew smelling of cats wee! This is because the pollen is not fresh. Also make sure that the flowers are freshly opened and are not turning brown as again this will affect the flavour. Also avoid picking flowers directly on roadsides as not only will they have petrol residue on then, they may not have as much wild yeast.

4 gallons (20 litres) of Elderflower champagne

4 gallons tap water
4 lemons, halved, squeezed into your tub
2 2lb bags of white sugar
around 20 Elderflower heads
Few glugs of white wine vinegar
10 old 2 litre fizzy drinks bottles (yes you’ll really have that much)

Equipment
One large bucket with a lid.

Clean your equipment out.

Put in the sugar, water, vinegar.

Heads in the bucket with water for a few days (until you think it looks ready – 3 to 9 days ).

Strain through muslin cloth into bottles. Leave for as long as you want. They will keep for a year if they do not burst before hand.

Make sure you keep an eye on the bottles…if they look solid and fit to burst, release some of the pressure by unscrewing the caps. If you do not do this they map explode!

Roasted butternut squash and sage risotto with pinenuts

Butternut squash and sage is a marriage made in heaven as this simple yet flavour-packed risotto shows.

Ingredients

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Cut the butternut squash into 6-8 wedges, remove the seeds and place in a roasting tray. Pound or chop the garlic and add a generous glug of olive oil, half the sage leaves, sea salt and pepper. Tip into the tray and rub over the butternut squash with your hands. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes until softened and becoming golden in colour.
  3. Once the squash has cooked, cool slightly, then scrape the soft flesh away from the skin into a bowl. Lightly mash with a fork or potato masher until it is fairly chunky in texture. Scrape any sticky juices left in the roasting tray into the bowl and keep warm while making the risotto.
  4. Heat the olive oil and a good knob of butter in a deep, heavy-based frying pan or saute pan. Gently fry the onion until softened. Add the rice and stir for about a minute until the grains are coated with the oil and butter. Pour in the wine and stir continuously until it has cooked into the rice. Add a good ladle of hot stock and the remaining sage and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down so the stock is simmering gently. Keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice, stirring and moving the rice around in the pan. After about 15-20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy, but not too loose. Add extra stock if necessary. It may seem tedious standing and stirring but the end result will be worth it.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir the roasted butternut squash into the risotto with the parmesan, the remaining butter and seasoning to taste. Add any extra stock if the risotto seems particularly thick. Cover with a lid for a couple of minutes as this will give the risotto an even creamier texture.

During this time, place the pinenuts in a fairly hot frying pan and toss around until golden. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and scatter with the pinenuts and extra parmesan

 

What to do with all that beetroot!…

500g whole beetroot
Tap water
Salt

For the pickling liquid;
180g malt vinegar
50g balsamic vinegar
180g unrefined caster sugar
3 whole star anise
30g extra virgin olive oil + extra to top up the jars
1 whole cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt

Recipe Instructions

Cook the beetroot.
Remove the leaves and wash the beets in cold water. Place the beets in a large saucepan of water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to the boil and cook the beets until they are tender. Remove the beets from the pan and set them aside to cool. Once cooled, remove the skins and cut them into wedges.

Sterilize the jars.
Sterilize glass jam jars in the oven and pour boiling water over the inside of the lids to sterilize them.

Make the pickling liquid.
Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and let the liquid simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beetroot and bring the liquid back to the boil, boil for 1 minute.

Jar the beetroot.
Remove the beetroot from the saucepan and let them cool slightly before spooning them into the jars. Pour over the remaining liquid making sure the beetroot is completely covered. Pour in about 1cm of extra virgin olive oil on top to keep the oxygen out. Seal the jars and let them cool completely before putting them in the fridge. Let the pickled beetroot mature for 1 week before eating.