Category Archives: Drinks

Serviceberry Shrub

I wrote last year about my delight in discovering a serviceberry tree on public property in my neighbourhood, which gave me the chance to do a spot of urban foraging and make something delicious from the berries I picked.

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comI’m glad to say that I have subsequently spotted a few more serviceberry trees within walking distance of my home meaning I can grab a decent haul of the sweet red berries but leave plenty on the tree for other foragers and birds.

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comThe window for picking is relatively short. There was about a one week period where I was making daily strolls to pick berries from the abundant supply. I then returned from a couple of days out of town to find that the trees were bare of berries and that was it for this year.

Luckily I had gathered enough to make something delicious. Last year I opted for a sweet, thick syrup, perfect with pancakes. This year I decided to turn my berries into a shrub, or drinking vinegar. I make these regularly, especially when I have a glut of strawberries or blackberries, but have never tried with serviceberries before.

The result is absolutely delicious; it’s a pity that I’m going to have to wait another year until I can make some more.

Serviceberry Shrub

Ingredients

12oz fresh serviceberries

1 cup distilled white vinegar

Granulated sugar

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comPlace the berries in a glass or ceramic jar, crush lightly and add the vinegar.

Leave to steep for 4 days, stirring or shaking daily.

After 4 days strain the fruit. Then add the sugar: I use a 2:1 liquid to sugar ratio but you can adjust to your personal taste. After straining I had around 10 fl.oz. of liquid so I added 5oz of sugar to it and then gently heated it in a pan over medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Once the shrub is cool, bottle it and store in the fridge.

I usually drink my shrubs diluted with sparkling water.

(Very) Small Batch Cider Making

Throughout the autumn of last year our CSA box was particularly well supplied with apples. As fast as we tried to eat them, dry them, make sauce or preserve them in some other way, before we knew it another week had gone by and we had another pile on our hands.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comBy the end of October the surplus had reached the stage where I opted to turn it into cider, or “hard cider” as it is known on this side of the Atlantic. It is not a decision I take lightly as I don’t have a cider press, making it a fairly labour intensive process which doesn’t yield a huge amount of cider, but there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from watching the precious liquid ferment and bubble away and eventually enjoying the fruits of all that work with a chilled glass of the finished product.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comThe process I use is basically the one to be found in this video from theperennialplate.com.

First, I wash the apples, before coarsely chopping them, pips and all, and throwing them in a food processor. They are then processed until finely chopped. The resulting chopped apples are then passed through a food mill. This is the most laborious part of the process, but I keep cranking that handle until I get as much pulp out of the apples as I can, leaving behind just a dry apple residue.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comDuring this process the apple pulp tends to oxidise, taking on a dark brown colour, but as the cider ferments it always turns a beautiful golden hue, so there is no need to worry.

The final stage is to take the thick pulp from the food mill and leave it to strain through muslin or a jelly bag to yield as much juice as you can. In this case, 17 apples yielded 50 fl.oz of juice.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comIn the video on theperennialplate.com they rely on the natural yeasts present on the apples to trigger the fermentation. I prefer to give nature a helping hand, and add champagne yeast to the juice. Yeast sachets from wine making stores are typically enough to ferment 5 gallons so estimate how much to use based on how much juice you have. It is not an exact science so don’t worry about being too precise, and if in doubt, use a little more yeast than you think you need.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.comPut the juice and yeast in a sanitised glass vessel, seal with an airlock and leave to bubble away for a few weeks until the fermentation activity slows down, the juice clears and a thick layer of sediment forms. In this case it took about 5 weeks. I then syphoned the cider into a fresh fermenting vessel, leaving behind the sediment.

I left this for a couple of weeks until all fermentation had stopped before bottling. My final yield was just enough to fill three 11oz bottles. I added half a teaspoon of granulated sugar to each bottle to ensure a secondary fermentation in the bottle to give the final cider some sparkle.

Leave for at least a couple of weeks for the secondary fermentation to generate some fizz in the bottle. The cider will be good for at least a year. I’ve cracked open dusty bottles from my basement that are 3-4 years old and they are still good.

small batch cider making from britinthesouth.com

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Edible Whisky Infused Snowflakes

I cannot claim credit for the original idea for these but it took a few experiments and a bit of trial and error to perfect the technique.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comA couple of years ago I was on a transatlantic flight a couple of weeks before Christmas and one of the options on the inflight video channels was Heston Blumenthal’s “Fantastical Food Christmas Special”. This was a series where he made supersized and fantasy versions of British food classics and the Christmas edition included edible tree decorations and a Christmas pudding large enough to climb into.

He experimented with various ways of producing alcoholic snow with little success. He finally opts for “rice paper snowflakes infused with a special whisky infused sugar”, but only makes the briefest mention of them with no detail on how he does it. Many of the fantasy dishes on Heston’s TV shows use ingredients, equipment or techniques that are out of my reach but whisky infused paper sounded well within my grasp, and a great addition to our tree decorations.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comThe starting point is rice paper, also known as wafer paper, edible sheets typically made with from potato starch or rice. Used in cake decorating and candy making they can be found in cake supply stores or online.

I used a snowflake shaped punch from an art supply store to make the snowflakes but you can use any shape that takes your fancy. The next step is to make a thick paste from powdered sugar and whisky (or the alcohol of your choice). Using a small brush, “paint” this onto the paper and before it dries sprinkle on some sparkling sugar to add some twinkle to the final result.

edible whisky infused snowflakes from britinthesouth.comThese snowflakes are somewhat delicate and are at their best within 2 to 3 days of being made before the alcohol dissipates and they dry out. You can hang them on your tree, use them as a drinks garnish or hand them out as an unusual nibble at holiday gatherings.

Edible Whisky Infused Snowflakes

2 sheets wafer paper

1 tbsp powdered sugar

1.5 tsp whisky

2 tsp sparkling sugar

Cut out the snowflake shape (or whatever shape you desire) from the sheets of wafer paper. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Mix the powdered sugar and whisky into a thick paste. Using a small brush carefully paint the sugar and whisky solution onto the wafer paper shapes.

Before the paste dries sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

Leave to dry before eating or using to decorate. To prevent the paper from curling as it dries place another sheet of parchment paper on top and then put a flat object such as a chopping board on top of that.

Yield: 12 snowflakes

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Chocolate Stout Ganache

Young’s Brewery was founded in Wandsworth in south London in 1831. When I lived in London I enjoyed sampling their fine ales whenever I encountered them.

Sadly, their old Ram Brewery in Wandsworth was closed for redevelopment a few years ago and production of their beers moved to Bedford, over 60 miles north of the original brewery, although the old building retains a small microbrewery, enabling the location to still claim to be the oldest site of continual brewing in Britain.

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.comOn this side of the Atlantic the only Young’s beer I find with any regularity is their “Double Chocolate Stout”, which not only offers distinct hints of chocolate on the nose and palate from the use of roasted dark malts, but for good measure includes real chocolate and chocolate essence. It is a distinctive and flavourful beer, and with the holiday season upon us I couldn’t resist adding yet more chocolate to it to come up with a unique dessert.

Ganache is usually made by combining chocolate with cream but I substituted the chocolate stout for cream, and instead of rolling into balls to make conventional truffles I poured it into shot glasses to form the basis of a mini “pint”. I used 60% bittersweet chocolate which combined with the beer to make a rich, velvety layer which was then topped off with a white chocolate and cream ganache to form the head of the beer. The sweet creamy top layer contrasts beautifully with the dark chocolate and beer combination, and eaten with a teaspoon from the shot glass it is just the right size for a decadent little dessert.

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.com

Chocolate Stout Ganache

8oz bittersweet chocolate (I like Ghirardelli 60% or Guittard 74%)

1 cup (8 fl.oz) chocolate stout

6oz white chocolate

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream

 

Chop the dark bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.

Heat the beer over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Do not boil.

Pour the hot beer over the chocolate and stir well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a jug and pour into glass or plastic shot glasses (I used 1.65 fl.oz (50ml) glasses). Leave space at the top of the glass for the white chocolate “head”.

Put the glasses into the fridge to set (about 1-2 hours).

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.comTo make the white chocolate ganache break the white chocolate into pieces and melt over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Meanwhile gently heat the cream in a small pan. Do not boil. When the chocolate is melted remove from the heat and gently stir the warm cream into the chocolate. When combined, transfer the ganache to a jug and gently pour on top of the dark chocolate layer in the shot glasses.

Return to the fridge to set for at least an hour or two before enjoying. Will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Yield: 10 x 1.65oz glasses

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.com

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Strawberry Wine: 2016 Vintage

This year’s batch of strawberry wine started life early one morning in mid April when we headed about an hour south of Atlanta to our favourite pick your own farm. There was a slight chill in the air when we started but we soon warmed up as we filled half a dozen buckets with ripe red berries.

Strawberry Wine 2016 Vintage from britinthesouth.comI have been making this strawberry wine recipe for many years. It is a beautifully coloured, fragrant, dry rosé that is delicious when lightly chilled and retains a delicate aroma of strawberries.

Strawberry Wine 2016 Vintage from britinthesouth.comThe recipe comes from my well thumbed copy of “The Complete Book of Home Winemaking” by H.E.Bravery, which dates from 1979 and is a book I have been using for over thirty years, having started my home winemaking career at a rather young age. H.E.Bravery was a prolific author on the topics of home wine and beer making, publishing many books, primarily in the 1960s, such as “Home Brewing Without Failures” and “Home Booze: Complete Guide for the Amateur Wine and Beer Maker”. Some of his writing now seems a little dated, especially as a lot of the science and equipment used in home beer and winemaking has moved on since he wrote his books but many of the fundamentals are still sound.

This recipe uses what Bravery calls “the Campden method” as it uses Campden tablets, small pills of sodium metabisulphite, which are added to the fruit at the start of the process, killing the wild yeasts and bacteria which could otherwise affect the fermentation process and spoil the flavour of the wine.

I normally make this wine in a one gallon batch but as that produces a mere six bottles I decided to go large this year and make a five gallon batch, so we can enjoy the taste of summer for a lot longer. It does mean a lot more cleaning and sanitising work when it comes to bottling it but it is worth it once you have a good stash of rosé in your cellar.

The recipe below is for one UK gallon (160 fl.oz).

Strawberry Wine

From “The Complete Book of Home Winemaking” by H.E.Bravery

3lb strawberries

2lb sugar

5 fl.oz freshly made strong tea

1 Campden tablet

Wine yeast and yeast nutrient

Approximately 1 gallon of water

Boil the sugar in 3 pints of water for 2 minutes, and leave to cool.

Hull the strawberries and put them in a large food safe plastic bucket. You can get large plastic food containers from restaurant supply stores or plastic fermenting buckets from home wine making shops.

Crush the berries well by hand. I find a potato masher usually does the trick.

Add the tea and mix in half a gallon of water and one Campden tablet, crushed and mixed with two tablespoons of water. The addition of tea might sound slightly odd but it adds tannin into the equation, achieving a much better final result.

Add the cooled sugar / water mixture.

Add the wine yeast and nutrient, cover and leave to ferment for 7 days, stirring daily. You can get wine yeast and yeast nutrient at any good home winemaking supply store. They can advise you on the best choice of yeast for the wine style you are making and the quantity of yeast and nutrient to add to your wine, depending on the quantity you are making.

Strawberry Wine 2016 Vintage from britinthesouth.comAfter this, strain the wine. Cover it again and leave to stand for one hour. At this stage boil some water and allow to cool in case you need to top off the wine in the next stage.

Pour carefully into a gallon jar leaving behind as much deposit as you can. Fill up the jar with cooled boiling water to where the neck begins, fit a fermentation lock and leave it until all fermentation has stopped.

At this stage you can bottle the wine, siphoning it into sterilised bottles before corking them.

Strawberry Wine 2016 Vintage from britinthesouth.comThis wine is best drunk young. It will happily last for a year or two stored in the right conditions but it isn’t one to stash away in the cellar and pull out in ten years time.

Strawberry Wine 2016 Vintage from britinthesouth.com

 

 

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14100123/?claim=vg53jwuqtmr”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Save

Save

Buttered Pecans & Strawberry Bourbon

After gathering a bumper harvest of strawberries in the spring I turned to a handful of tried and tested jam and drink recipes to process the bulk of them, but I also had a go at something new: strawberry infused bourbon.

Buttered Pecans and Strawberry Bourbon from britinthesouth.comMost of the fruit infused liqueurs I make include some sugar but this time I simply filled a couple of jars with strawberries, added bourbon until the jar was full and then forgot about them for a couple of months.

Buttered Pecans and Strawberry Bourbon from britinthesouth.comBy the time I came to strain them the strawberries had imparted a beautiful rosy pink hue and although the aroma was still unmistakably that of bourbon, my nose couldn’t help but detect a subtle fragrance of fresh strawberries as well. On the palate it was smooth and delicious with the delicate hint of strawberries balancing well with the bourbon base. I wouldn’t recommend using an expensive small batch artisan bourbon for this but use something half decent and drinkable.

All in all, a fine drink for early summer sipping but it was crying out for a suitable accompaniment. Having just picked up some Georgia pecans at my local farmers market I quickly whipped up a batch of buttered pecans to nibble while enjoying my new fruity tipple.

Buttered Pecans and Strawberry Bourbon from britinthesouth.com

Buttered Pecans

This recipe is based on a buttered brazil nut recipe from “Sweets Made Simple”, from the wonderful folks at Hope and Greenwood

Ingredients

7oz pecans

8oz soft brown sugar

3oz unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 fl oz water

Heat the oven to 350F. Put the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 10 minutes until toasty and aromatic.

Put the sugar, butter, cream of tartar and water in a heavy bottomed pan and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Buttered Pecans and Strawberry Bourbon from britinthesouth.comPut a candy thermometer in the pan and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring and leave it cooking until the temperature hits 266F. Remove the pan from the heat.

Buttered Pecans from britinthesouth.comLine a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip each pecan in the hot sugar mix to coat and then put on the baking sheet to cool. Leave for at least an hour before enjoying. If you don’t devour them immediately they will last at least a week in a cool place.

The Accidental Fruit Farm: Mulberry & Blackberry Shrub

I often dream about growing more of our own food. We have a few modest raised beds in our back yard and plant a selection of vegetables every year but usually with limited success. I’m not sure if this is down to my limited gardening expertise or the voracious squirrels we share our garden with.

Our house is on a corner lot, and as well as decent sized front and back yards features a steep L-shaped bank at the front and side that was already planted with a selection of plants, trees and shrubs when we moved in. As they have matured they have become a constant maintenance challenge, with much pruning, trimming and in some cases uprooting needed to stop them from taking the place over. What little time I have to spend in the garden is often dedicated to this rather than nurturing edible crops.

Luckily, mother nature has intervened this year to give me something to eat and drink that doesn’t rely on my limited horticultural skills.

Mulberries from britinthesouth.comAt the back of our garden are a few nondescript young trees that for years we paid little attention to. They gradually got bigger and last year for the first time we noticed a handful of berries on the trees. A quick bit of online research revealed that we were in fact the proud owners of five mulberry trees. Last year’s crop was small and we were beaten to the fruit by birds and squirrels. This year is a different matter, and the trees are dripping with loads of berries.

Mulberries from britinthesouth.comIt is still a challenge to get the fruit before the critters do, and as the berries seem to ripen unevenly I have been venturing out each evening to collect all the ripe berries I can and then freezing them on a baking sheet until I got a big enough batch to experiment with.

Mulberries from britinthesouth.comLuckily, to augment the mulberry harvest I also have a fine crop of wild blackberries. Most years I get a pitiful crop from the cultivated blackberries that I planted myself but the brambles on a neglected piece of land at the back of my yard positively flourish.

Blackberries from britinthesouth.com With my modest mulberry harvest and the first of the year’s blackberries I made a small batch of shrub, a sweetened vinegar / fruit mix that makes a good base for both soft drinks and cocktails.

Mulberry and blackberry shrub from britinthesouth.comI  used a 50/50 mix of mulberries and blackberries, mixed in a jar and then lightly crushed in distilled white vinegar.

Mulberry and blackberry shrub from britinthesouth.comThis mixture is left to infuse for a few days and then strained. The resulting liquid then has sugar added and is gently heated to yield a thick, sweet, sour, fruity concentrate that makes a refreshing drink when diluted with water or can be used to add a burst of vibrant fruit flavor to a cocktail.

Mulberry and Blackberry Shrub from britinthesouth.com

Mulberry and Blackberry Shrub

Ingredients

8oz fresh mulberries

8oz fresh blackberries

1 cup distilled white vinegar

Granulated sugar

Place the berries in a glass or ceramic jar, crush lightly and add the vinegar.

Leave to steep for 4 days, stirring or shaking daily.

After 4 days strain the fruit. Then add the sugar: I use a 2:1 liquid to sugar ratio but you can adjust to your personal taste. After straining I had around 2 cups of liquid so I added a cup of sugar to it and then gently heated it in a pan over medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar is dissolved.

Once the shrub is cool, bottle it and store in the fridge.

Strawberry Liqueur

Back home in England the strawberry season heralds the arrival of summer. The traditional season is a relatively short one, stretching from mid-June through July, which happily coincides with the Wimbledon tennis tournament where strawberries and cream are consumed in notorious quantities.
Strawberry Liqueur from britinthesouth.com
Here in Georgia, the climate means strawberries are a spring crop, their delicate nature unable to stand up to the temperatures and humidity of a southern summer. So April invariably sees us paying a visit or two to Southern Belle Farm, our favourite pick your own place. It takes less than an hour to get there but it is good to get away from town and feel the sun on your back and the birdsong in your ears as you fill a few baskets with fresh berries. Strawberry Liqueur from britinthesouth.comWe invariably get carried away with our picking which means our bucolic trip to the country is followed by a strawberry processing marathon once we’re back in the kitchen, but it’s worth it if we never have to go to a supermarket to buy strawberry jam, or on a dark winter evening we can sip a jewel red strawberry liqueur which instantly transports us back to those sunny fields.
Strawberry Liqueur from britinthesouth.com

As usual we brought back a huge haul of strawberries. Some we simply ate while they were fresh but the bulk of what we picked were quickly transformed into three different types of jam, strawberry lemonade concentrate, strawberry shrub and strawberry champagne truffles. Some were pureed and frozen whilst others were pickled. We still had enough left to infuse in alcohol to preserve that beautifully fresh taste to sip in the future. Preserving strawberries from britinthesouth.comInfusions are a simple yet delicious way to preserve a glut of fruit. My introduction to them many years ago was the classic British hedgerow tipple of sloe gin. Sloes were abundant close to where I used to live in London and turning them into a liqueur is pretty simple.

Strawberry Liqueur from britinthesouth.comI would describe the process as more of a formula than a recipe: simply fill a jar to the top with fruit, add sugar to approximately a third of the level of the fruit, and then fill the jar with your alcohol of choice. It can be sloes and gin, blackberries and whisky, or in this case, strawberries and vodka. I usually leave this strawberry infusion for around six months before straining and bottling. The resulting liqueur is a beautiful shade of red and still carries a delicious taste of fresh strawberries. Of course, if you make a batch every year you will still have some previous vintages to enjoy while the current one matures.

Homemade strawberry liqueur from britinthesouth.comFor good measure I also infused a small batch of strawberries in bourbon without adding sugar. Something I haven’t tried before and I look forward to seeing how those turn out. I plan to enjoy the 2015 strawberry season for many months to come.