It's supposed to drop to 4c tonight and I am wondering when the first frost will hit, not that I'm bothered really, the poly tunnel is stocked with fairly hardy stuff and the vulnerable stuff in the garden has been harvested or eaten by my beautiful small assistant or the ducks, chickens, goats and when they can get out the sheep!
So its the time for preserving, baking, freezing and brewing.
We have a ever increasing stock of pickles, purees, pickled eggs, pickled fruit, mincemeat for the pies at Christmas and some amazing marow jam. Not to mention the cheese, ice cream and other goodies that Nanny Southwellski keeps putting on the shelves and in the freezer with great regularity.
My contribution this year has been the fruit juices (these lasted almost a week, it was hardly worth putting the lids on the bottles), wines, beers and medicines for the coming dark months.
|Berry berry nice!|
Never made Elderberry wine before so this is new ground for me, I am using the River Cottage recipe and methods so basically juice the berries, about 1.5kg to 1.8kg for a gallon of wine, by covering them with 4 pints of boiling water and then mashing them with a potato masher.
|Taking the strain|
When cool strain them together into a large container before tarnsferring to a clean demi-john with wine yeast, yeast nutrient and waiting for 4-5 days for the fermentation to slow down before decanting it into a second clean demi-john.
If you find the level of fluid dropping below the neck of the demi-john top up with cooled boiled water.
One cautionary note, don't squeeze the strainer bag with your bare hands. Anyone know what will remove Elderberry juice stain from hands?
Now I know where the saying respect your elders comes from.
I will keep you posted as to how it turns out.
I promised to give you my bread recipe, well actually it's not entirely my own I have just adapted it on a trial and error basis and believe me their have been quite a few errors!
I use strong white flour for the basic recipe which gives me two good sized white loaves. I get my flour from Wessex Mill (www.wessexmill.co.uk) down in Wantage, birthplace of King Alfred no less! I know this because it's printed on the side of the flour bags.
They deliver really quickly and the 10kg and 16kg bags that I get work out really cheap. Two loaves for well under a £1, lovely! They also do a whole range of different flours including Cinnamon and Apple, and Pasta flour to name but two.
Anyway the recipe.......
10 fluid ounces of slightly warmer than hand hot water
2 tablespoons of white sugar
2 teaspoons of dried active yeast
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (melted)
10 fluid ounces milk (whole or semi skimmed)
1 tablespoon of salt
5-6 cups strong white flour.
Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top allowing it to form a foam head, usually about 10 mins.
Don't have the water too hot as this will just kill the yeast. As a guide you should be able to bear your (clean) finger in it for a while without feeling any discomfort and certainly no blistering!!!
Put 1 cup of flour in a large mixing bowl along with the milk, melted butter and salt.
Pour in the yeast mixture and mix to a lumpy batter.
Now gradually add the remaing flour until you get a slightly sticky yet soft flexible dough, about ten minutes or so. You can do this by hand, but I prefer using our 'Kitchenaid' static mixer with a dough hook which does all the hard work while I make a cup of tea.
Don't worry if you don't use all the flour, save it for next time.
When the dough is ready transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough around in the oil until it is all thinly coated.
Leave in a warm place until doubled in size then turn out onto a worktop and knead gently for a couple of minutes. Continue by dividing into two, shaping into a ball shape and letting it rest for five minutes or so. After that pop the dough into oiled loaf tins and allow to rise again. When the dough just peeps above the tin sides preheat the oven to 220c.
When the loaf is fully risen put it in the oven and then turn the temperature down to 190c immediately you close the oven door.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes until the loaf has an even brown colouring and sounds hollow when tapped.
|Truly best of both|
After the first proving (rising) , twist the wholemeal and white dough together and then put in the tin to rise. Bake as above.
The results are quite spectacular, in their own way.