Tag Archives: winter drink

Sticky sweet: Blackcurrant syrup

I know lately I’ve been using the word ‘homegrown’ a lot, and probably in a very self-congratulatory way but I never realised how satisfying it was to know that you grew and hand-picked something you are eating until I started doing it. My recent preserving tangent, while starting as a way to fulfil Christmas present obligations, has grown into a way to use fruit, herbs and vegetables grown in my own garden and those of my friends and family, rather than see anything go to waste. This has led to inventiveness that even I will admit has gone off the deep end – resulting in phrases like “why throw away the skins of used lemons when I could use the peel to make flavoured salt?!” coming out of my mouth. It has also spurred my love of free food that began while digging around in supermarkets rubbish skips while at University.
 

Today I took a more legal route and foraged 1kg of blackcurrants (and unintentionally 2 stick insects, but don’t worry, no living creatures were harmed in the making of this meal). I hate to use the word ‘foraged’ as it sounds so lame and trendy, but what else can you call it when you find a patch of wild berries growing and pick them? Add some lemons from my grandparents place, strawberries from my parents place, some sugar and you have yourself enough team-effort blackcurrant syrup to last through till next summer!

Blackcurrant syrup (recipe from http://www.britishlarder.co.uk/home-made-blackcurrant-cordial/#axzz2r4qMLhvT)
450g blackcurrants
250g caster sugar
260ml water
1 medium sized lemon

Sterilise the bottles you will be using to store the syrup
De-stalk and wash the blackcurrants, don’t be too picky – it doesn’t matter if some still have stalks attached
Heat the blackcurrants, sugar and water in a medium saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved
Once the sugar has dissolved bring the syrup to a gentle simmer
Simmer for 5 minutes then add the juice and skin of the lemon
Bring the syrup back to simmer for a further 5 minutes
Pass the cordial through a fine sieve, pressing the berries with a wooden spoon to squeeze the juice out of them, then pour the cordial into sterilised bottles
Store in the fridge or if you feel like it, freeze in ice cube trays (you could add them straight to lemonade or water!)

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Warm it up, ’cause that’s what I was born to do: Mulled Wine

My last post was a month ago, to the day. At that time it was warm enough that you could still (just) get away with wearing a tshirt and shorts. Now winter has set upon Melbourne with a vengeance, and so a few days ago I decided it was time to fulfill a long-held winter resolution.

For years I’ve been saying I would make mulled wine, last year I added mulled cider to the ‘must make this some day in the future’ list. Now I feel like a fool because when I finally got around to making it, mulled wine was SO easy. And not only easy but super tasty, great to share with friends and a guaranteed way to impress people (even when they find out all you did was mix a few ingredients together).

Mulled wine
1 orange, peeled and juiced
1 lemon, peeled and juiced
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half
3 whole star anise
pinch of nutmeg
110g brown sugar
3 cardamom pods
1/2 inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 litre red wine (I used cask wine)

Add all ingredients apart from the wine to a large pot and heat on medium-high until it boils and becomes syrupy, stirring occasionally (if there is not enough liquid to cover the other ingredients, add a splash of wine)

Add the rest of the wine and heat until warm

Don’t add all the wine at the start, you won’t get as strong a flavour from the spices and you’ll burn off all the alcohol, and nobody wants that.

Best served warm alongside a high-quality board game or movie.

And AGAIN I forgot to take photo of the mulled wine, so here is one of the view I enjoyed while drinking it

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