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Harvest Monday – June 6, 2011

June 6, 2011

Nothing much from the balcony garden this week. On Tuesday, some lettuce and herbs, just enough for a salad, and some chard to toss into the pasta with ‘random vegetable sauce’ that was my dinner that day (clear sign it was a lazy day – if I don’t feel like cooking, or rather, like coming up with a proper dinner, it’s pasta with whatever veggies are in the fridge).

And then… nothing. The exhaustion of May is still making itself felt, and I needed a couple of lazy days, and also my vegetable farm store opened again on June 1st, so I had to pay them a visit – I worked there for two summers, after all, when I was still at school – and got some thunderstorm-damaged lettuce for free, so I’m letting mine grow. It needs some time to catch up with my appetite, anyway.

I would have harvested and cooked something again during the weekend, but went off to visit first my best friend and then my mother, so all that got harvested was the lemon thyme, which I cut to dry on Sunday night.

But much more important, the fruits of my foraging:

I took advantage of the sunny weather on Monday (there was a lot of rain forecast for the rest of the week, and we’ve had some crazy thunderstorms with crazy amounts of rain) and picked a lot of elderflowers. I put some down to dry, but most I used to make elderflower cordial. This is the only drink I bother keeping around – personally, I stick to tap water and herbal teas, but in case I have visitors or for those rare days when I want a sweet drink, it’s good to have something in the house.

I even thought of checking what it’d cost at the store – prices range from about € 2 to over € 7 per litre – homemade, one batch (about 5 to 6 litres) comes to about € 4.60, and it’s so easy to make.

On a sunny day, pick 20-25 (or more – I always use more) flower umbels of Common Elder (Sambucus nigra) – make sure to choose bug-free ones (the biggest challenge about the whole process, since those shrubs are the worst aphid magnets!) and a place with little traffic or other pollution because you shouldn’t wash them before you use them – you need the pollen for the taste (that’s also why you should pick a sunny day, when the pollen hasn’t been washed off by rain).

Put them in a  pot with four sliced lemons, 100g of lemon acid and four litres of water, and leave it alone for 24 hours. Then, strain to remove the flowers and lemon slices and stir in 3 kg of sugar. Boil to sterilize and bottle while hot. Oh, and don’t forget to dilute it with lots of water before you drink it! I remember a funny scene from my childhood when my father took a bottle out of the fridge without looking too closely, assuming it was water… well, we always reused water bottles for the cordials!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 09:05

    You know what? I totally missed out on picking elderflowers and now they are almost gone. Oh, well… I think I’m gonna wait for the berries. You harvest is beautiful as always! The chard is huge already. And the dinner looks very tasty.

    • June 7, 2011 19:04

      I almost miss it every year – but only almost!
      This year, I need to learn to make something with the berries.

  2. June 7, 2011 16:33

    I keep reading about this Elderberry cordial! I need to try some 🙂

  3. June 9, 2011 14:00

    That sounds delicious. I’ve never had it though so don’t know what it tastes like.

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