Plum Compote with Earl Grey Tea

What to do with all those fine blue plums, and yes, they really do have a bluey hue to them:

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Well, when in Rome …

The Germans love their compotes so, building up stocks for my pop-up shop at the autumn artisan market, compote it shall be, but with an English touch of course:

Plum Compote with Earl Grey Tea

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1 kg purple plums, halved and stoned

2-3 Tbsp. sugar

Tea leaves of your choice, in a tea bag, e.g. Earl Grey, or Green Tea with Orange, or Black Tea with Winter Spices

  1. Place your plums in a large saucepan, sprinkle with the sugar, place the lid on and leave to sit for several hours, ideally overnight but for at least 3 hours. The sugar draws the fruit’s own liquid out of it, eliminating the need to add any water for cooking, resulting in a far more intense flavour.
  1. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Place the tea bag in amongst the plums and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the fruit is soft and falling apart but not completely mushy. Remove the tea bag, taking care not to puncture it otherwise your compote will be full of tea leaves.
  1. Place in sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool, dark place where the compote will keep for several months.

The tea harmonizes exceptionally well with the flavour of purple plums and you can use the compote in a multitude of ways from breakfast through to dinner.

 

 

 

 

The King’s Candles

… or Verbascum, and sometimes mullein, as this genus (Verbascum, of which there are some 350 species…) is known in English.

I do think, though, that the German Königskerze does for more justice to this plant which becomes truly regal when it flowers in July:

14_07_2013 Königskerzen

Favouring dry, sandy soils in the sun (and therefore often to be found flourishing on wasteland), the Königskerze is not only regal, it has a tradition of healing dating back to Hippocrates. The plant has distinct emollient, demulcent and astringent properties and, while Hippocrates reccommended it for the external treatment of wounds, the Königskerze went on to develop a tradition of treating coughs, colds and respiratory complaints.

The flowers have robust, fleshy petals making them difficult to dry and so one of the best and easiest ways of extracting their healing properties is to use them to make an infused honey in readiness for the onset of autumn and winter:

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1) You need to pick the flowers on a dry day, either in the morning or in the evening, not in the heat of the day, and only pick the blossoms fully open. You need to use the blossoms immediately (they will wilt and start to turn brown within hours otherwise) so make sure you have a sterilised jar (I fill the jar with boiling water direct from the kettle and leave it to stand for at least 5 minutes before using) and the honey with you.

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2) Place your blossoms directly into your sterilised jar, enough to fill the jar, pour in the honey, seal and rotate the jar a good couple of times to make sure all of the blossoms are covered in a coating of honey.

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3) Leave to infuse at room temperature for about 2 weeks. At the end of the infusing, strain the honey into a clean, sterilised jar for storage and/or immediate use either directly as a teaspoonful of honey medicine for ailing children, or to sweeten herbal teas.

Elderflowers and Strawberries

One of the most summery flavour combinations there is!

And one of the simplest ways to enjoy this combination throughout the summer months is to make yourself some Elderflower-Infused Honey

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now, while the elderflowers are in blossom –

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and drizzle it over your strawberries at will.

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Do it, you will be glad you did!

P.S. Works well with all summer berries 🙂

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The Big Freeze

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What to do when the Big Freeze sets in?

Go with the freeze and make ice decorations!

Great for using up the remnants of festive decorations and Mini-Kraut‘s autumnal nature displays:

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  1. Place your strings in the moulds first.
  2. Weigh them down with your bits & bobs.
  3. Fill with water and leave outdoors overnight.
  4. Hang them up in the garden the next day where they will keep for as long the temperature stays below zero! (Remember to clear up the strings and bits once the thaw sets in!)

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Wild Mushrooms

Despite having experienced the driest summer for 40 years this year, we are now enjoying a – late – glut of these wonderful treasures in the orchard:

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parasol mushrooms,

delicious fried in butter or in my autumn favourite:

Wild Mushroom Tart

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Quince Chutney

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Golden, garlicky and quintessentially delicious!

Quince Chutney

Prep. Time: about 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 90 minutes plus overnight infusing

Makes about 3 x 400 g jars

Ripe quinces                                                                    1 kg

Sugar                                                                             300 g

Onions                                                                            4

Garlic                                                                             1 bulb

Fresh ginger                                                                    1 piece about 3 cm long

Bay leaves                                                                      5

Cinnamon stick                                                                 1

Red wine                                                                         150 ml

Apple cider vinegar                                                           150 ml

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Peel the quinces, cut into quarters, remove the cores and then finely dice – or grate (dicing will give you chunky chutney, grating will give you mushy chutney).
  2. Place the diced/grated quinces in a large bowl together with the sugar, mix together well, cover and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the liquid out of the fruit, negating the need to add water for cooking and giving you a more intense flavour.
  3. The next day, finely chop the onions and sauté them slowly in the preserving pan until they start to caramelise (at least half an hour). Peel all of the garlic cloves from the bulb, crush them and stir into the caramelising onions. Peel the ginger and chop finely; stir into the onions and garlic.
  4. Add the sugary diced quinces and their juice to the pan together with the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, red wine and the vinegar. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, covered, until the quince pieces have softened.
  5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly, uncovered, for about another 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the chutney has turn a translucent golden red. Keep checking to make sure it does not stick to the base of the pan and burn.
  6. Pour into sterilised jars and seal, leaving to mature for at least a month before using.

Brilliant on a festive season cheeseboard!

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September Season

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Mustard Apple Pickle from Mantua: 

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/mustard-apple-pickle-from-mantua-la-mostarda-mantovana/

22_07_2012 Nürnberger Apfelkuchen

Nuremburg Apple Cake: 

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/nurnberger-apfelkuchen-nuremberg-apple-cake/

Pontack

Pontack, Ye Olde Englishe Elderberry Sauce:

 https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/pontack-ye-olde-englishe-elderberry-sauce/

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Ginger Pears Swedish Style: 

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/ginger-pears-swedish-style/

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Apple Rings: 

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/apple-rings-remember-them/