I was reading up on elder flowers and it seems that they are good for your immune system. Elders are blooming right now. Monday we plan on foraging, snipping off the flower heads to dry for tea, and digging up elder plants to plant here. There is a huge patch where we picked elderberries last year. After we pick berries, we plan on digging up some of those plants too. I want my own immunity patch growing right here! Have you ever made elder flower tea? I ask, because you are a wealth of information on foraging and natural treatments. I sure hope you feel better soon.
I've not used the flowers yet, I do make elderberry tincture every year though, and I've been known to serve up elderberry pie on occasion as well. We don't have an elder tree on our own property, but there are several around us growing wild.
I've always meant to get some of the flowers, but somehow I always miss the opportunity.
These are some things I'd like to make with them:
An early summer delicacy and very easy to make.
Golden brown and crunchy they are best eaten right out of the pan, generously dusted with cinnamon sugar. Or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
200g Plain Flower
250ml (half pint) milk
medium sized egg
Elderflower Heads - 2-3 per person - with enough of a stalk to hold onto
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients apart from the elderflower
Heat some oil in a pan or deep fat fryer, Dip flower head in batter and fry until golden brown
A pinch of cinnamon can be added to the batter to add extra flavour and the fritters can be rolled in sugar although this is not always needed if there is sugar in the batter
6 Elderflower heads
2 Lemons (sliced)
8 pints of water
1.5 lb sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Put elderflower heads and lemons in a primary fermentation vessel and pour on the water. Leave to soak for 24 - 36 hours. Strain through a sterile cloth (or muslin) and add sugar and vinegar. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and pour into screw-top bottles. Leave tops slightly loose for 10 to 14 days. Keep for 2 to 3 months before drinking. Serve cool on a hot, balmy evening.
Sodas based on elderflowers have been popular all along. Whether diluted with pure water, bubbling with soda water or sparkling mineral water, elderflower infused syrup makes deliciously refreshing drinks. It adds a nice twist to Prosecco and Champagne, perfect for an elaborate aperitif. I can even imagine it with the one or other dessert, did someone say panna cotta… sorbet…?
Back in the days when I was a kid experimenting with all kinds of mixtures and probably semi toxic concoctions, I remember my mum telling me to not use our regular water bottles as containers, simply to prevent someone from mistakenly drinking from it. Hm, ‘must have forgotten her word of advice for a moment, but was suddenly reminded of it, when I heard Oliver making funny noises in the kitchen. Guess I shouldn’t have used one of our regular water bottles for the leftover syrup *snicker*. What really cracked me up though was the sight of him leaning over the kitchen sink slurping water in record time trying to dilute the syrup in his tummy…
Clean the elderflowers (see recipe above), then remove the little blossoms from their stems.
In a very large pot bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved, then remove from heat.
Mix citric acid with a few tablespoons of water in a separate pot over medium heat until dissolved and add it to the syrup, stir well. Let the mixture cool down a bit, then add the elderflower blossoms.
Cover and leave to infuse for a minimum of 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain through a muslin lined sieve, then fill in clean bottles.
Productive day today, even though I'm still fighting this cold. Laryngitis now (DH is probably happy, though he hasn't said so).
I got all the beds weeded and watered, started laying a thin wood chip mulch over them. The guys layered some more chips into the paths to keep the weeds down there, too. DH has gone to find some twine to tie up the raspberry canes that are hovering over the closest beds.
The beans and beets finally broke ground!
Yesterday we went to the opening day of the Farmers Market. Besides picking up some gorgeous French Breakfast radishes, collards, lettuce, and baby beets, I also picked up some grass fed beef shortribs and tongue for some future meals. The Master Gardeners were there with a huge plant sale. I got some Lemon Balm, Munstead Lavender, basil, a columbine, and some Picotee Cosmos. Today I moved them all into bigger pots until I can figure out where I'm going to squeeze them in, as well as repotting the calendula (it's already budding!)
Last night I went all out with the short ribs, some sauteed morels, and some sauteed collards and beet greens. Tonight, it's a bit lighter-- salad with baby shrimp and homemade thousand island dressing.
I spent about $198 dollars yesterday on large cuts of meat on sale at Cash N Carry, walked away with about 95 pounds of meat- mostly beef with some pork and chicken thrown in. I have them frozen in portions suitable for pulling out and either freeze drying or canning over the next several days. It will be nice to have that sitting on my shelves!
So today, I'm processing about 10 pounds of chuck (some of it will end up as pot roast for tonight's dinner). I'm debating whether to make corned beef with the brisket. Then I have a huge stack of cardboard to flatten and add to the compost pile (the worms will love that) and the guys will continue to add wood chip mulch to the paths in the garden so the weeds don't take over.
Do you cook the meat before freeze drying?
Man, I would love me one of those freeze dryers!
Meat is on sale at the grocery store this week - 3 lb bag of boneless, skinless chicken breast for $4.99, $2.99/lb for 85% ground beef, $1.89/lb for boneless sirloin pork steaks. I should stock up and can a bunch of it.
I've tried freeze-drying both cooked and raw, and I've decided I prefer cooked. The raw meat seems a bit tougher when you cook with it, plus precooking (I use my instant pot for this) renders out more of the fat, which I don't want in freeze-dried foods as it doesn't "dry" and could end up going rancid. I haven't added any seasoning or spice to the meat because I wanted it to be more versatile, but I think this time I'm going to try lightly salting the meat. Shrimp can be freeze-dried raw, as it actually cooks during the drying cycle. I haven't tried other types of fish or seafood yet.
By the way, China's pork industry is experiencing an epidemic of Ebola (I didn't even know that pigs could get this, but apparently there is a swine version). Even if you don't buy chinese pork, we suspect american pork prices are going to rise because the world's supply is reduced. Might want to buy extra while the prices are still reasonable.