It’s getting wintery! That means it’s time for long, windy walks in wellies, picking sloes and rosehips by the roadside and scrumping the last of the apples. At least that’s what it means for me, since two things are now different in my life: I have moved to the countryside, and I have started doing a BSc at university (meaning I am a student now, and should be rioting instead of stomping through the countryside in my wellies. But anyway.)
For you, cookery corner readers, it means I will be doing some slightly less ill-informed ranting on about nutrition, and providing some good ol winter stews and the like in the blog.
As ever, I am a fan of gathered wild foods. I’m not so sure steeping sloes in store-bought gin really counts as proper wild food, but it’s awesome (and makes a good gift too!). Sloes are everywhere at the moment so take a bag with you if you get to go out for a walk, and pick a handful. The instructions are fairly simple: get a bottle of gin. Tip out maybe half to a third (you can use that to make a gin and tonic, while you get on with the rest!). Wash and weigh your sloes, then prick them individually with a toothpick or something similar, and drop them into your bottle. Weigh out some sugar – about half the amount of sloes to sugar (i.e. 150g sugar and 300g sloes, which is how much we used for our 700ml bottle). Use a funnel to pour it in, too, put the lid back on, give it a good shake, then leave it for at least 2 months, shaking it once in a while. Drain the sloes (which you can then bung into some cider for a few days to make an interesting drink!) and enjoy your purple gin!
This is the recipe I originally got from Middle Farm in Sussex, it’s a fairly sweet mulled cider and you can make a simple one by just gently cooking some cider with some mulling spices (cinnamon, mixed spice, juniper berries etc).
Ingredients: 4 pints of still, dry farmhouse cider (DO NOT USE horrible cheap white cider – unless you want horrible cheap mulled cider, bah), 3 apples, 2 oranges, juice and zest (rind) of 1 lemon, 2 tsp ground mixed spice, 8 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon quills snapped in half, 6 tbsp light soft brown sugar, or to taste.
1.Wash, core and slice the apples, and wash and slice the oranges (no need to peel).
2.Put all the ingredients into a pan, cover and heat gently for 1 hour or longer. Don’t let it come to the boil!
3.Strain through a sieve and serve.