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How to Crystalise Flowers

This is a fun little activity I discovered recently while looking for things to do with my foraged flowers. I had a variety of wonderful edible flowers and I already had more teas than I knew what to do with. It was then I came across the traditional fun and creative Victorian activity of flower crystalising. This is a really easy way of storing flowers and doing a fun and creative activity with the kids. It’s also very easy – you don’t have to be a whizz at cake decorating to get this one right.

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Step one is to to pick a bunch of edible flowers to use. Try to avoid going for ones from the shops, as these can often have harmful chemicals on them. Picking from your own garden is best – where you know exactly what they have been exposed to (or hopefully not exposed to!). Many flowers will also throw out extra blooms when a few are picked so you don’t have to worry about impacting your garden display.

Make sure you check out a reputable list of edible flowers and identify your flowers beforehand with absolute certainty.

I tried a range of flowers at first including hawthorn, daisy, geranium, poppy, forget me not and ground ivy. Not every flower will taste of anything but sugar – but it is worth noting you feel much less impatient when doing the larger flowers – although the forget me not were definately worth the strain!

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You then need one egg. Just one egg will do a large amount of flowers so you shouldn’t need any more than this. Separate off the egg white – this is the bit you want to keep for once! Give the egg white a good whisk – quality eggs will be a bit thick and will need breaking down to be more easily usable.

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Next get a clean (preferably unused or specifically kitchen based) fine paintbrush. Dip it in the egg whites and proceed to “paint” your flowers. Make sure to paint each petal on both sides and paint any parts of the flowers both showing and hidden (getting under any leafy bits and between petals etc).

Next get out some sugar. Castor sugar is preferred as it is finer and more delicate, but I used granulated sugar and it worked out just fine really.

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Dust both sides of the flowers being careful to cover as much as possible. Then place face down on greasproof paper and leave to dry. Once dried the flowers will go hard and will store easily. You can pop them in a dehydrator to speed up the process. You can then pick them up and place them delicately on top of fairy cakes… or whatever you please. They will retain thier shape and form and vibrance.

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Viola!

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Primrose Tea

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Primrose! The lovely little five petal delicate flower we love to have in our gardens – is totally edible! Both leaves and flowers can be eaten, but Primrose tea is made from the leaves.

 

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You can use the leaves fresh or dry them out and store them for future use.

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Fill a tea strainer with leaves, and then let it steep in hot water for a few minutes. The water will turn a pale green colour. This tea tastes liek an everyday geenric herb tea – it doesn’t have any kind of real flavour to it. I added the primrose flowers to the top of my glass to liven it up a bit and improve the flavour and content. This means you get a wonderful nose full of the smell of flowers everytime you take a sip too, which is highly relaxing!

 

20160325_155117 20160325_155107In the early days of medicine, the Primrosewas considered an important remedy in muscular rheumatism, paralysis and gout. The herb has sedative propoerties.
Not to be mistaken for other similar varieties and cross cultivators (evening primrose – also made into teas and tinctures, cowslip, oxlip).20160325_155103

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How to Make your Own Real Tomato Sauce

Do you have a thriving tomato plant in your home, garden, polytunnel or conservatory? Great! Then by now you are no doubt getting handfuls of tomatoes from it and looking at more unique ways of serving them up. This is a fantastic way of preserving the tomatoes and gaining a tasty sauce you don’t need to feel bad about adding to your dishes. This sauce keeps for up to 12 months sealed and 6 weeks once opened (if stored in the fridge when open). It tastes great too!

Ingredients

  • 2.5kg tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tsp ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (ground or juiced according to taste)
  • dash of chilli according to personal preference
  • 600ml white wine vinegar
  • 250g white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

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Method

Roughly chop the tomatoes and onion, and place in a large pan with all the spices. Add the vinegar and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved then bring to the boil. Once boiling point is reached reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

When the sauce is thick and pulpy blend or sieve the mixture according to your preference and store in an appropriate rubber sealed bottle.

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How to Make Goat’s Cheese (Chevre)

Goat’s cheese (Chevre variety) is a light and soft crumbly cheese with a lemon zest. It’s a traditional favourite and making it for yourself can save quite a few pennies even if you don’t own your own goats. Standard store bought goat’s milk will do the job and one carton does roughly three ‘rolls’.

You can also use some plants instead of lemons to coagulate the milk such as Nettle, Sorrel and Yarrow. However I am still experimenting with these so more on these later on.

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Ingredients

  • 1/3 Carton of Goat’s Milk
  • 1/2 Lemon

Method

Heat the Goat’s milk until it reaches 180c. The milk should suddenly expand and go crazy in your pot attempting to boil over. Immediately turn off the heat and remove the pan from the hob.

Add Lemon Juice and let it sit for a moment. The milk should curdle but it will be difficult to spot this as it’s quite a subtle thing with goat’s milk.

You shouldn’t have to wait more than a few sceonds.

Place a muslin cloth over a bowl and pour the mixture in. Allow it to sit for at least 2 hours. The cheese will sit on the top. The liquid is called whey and can be used in a variety of ways including as rice stock water for extra flavour.

Wrap the cheese curds in baking paper and store in the fridge to firm up over night.

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How to Make Camomile Tea

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Ingredients

 

 

 

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Method

 

Pick the flowers whole and leaves to soak in cold water. Change the water to ensure no soil or bugs remain. Leave to soak for a couple of hours and then dry out using a dehydrater or oven on a low setting.

Pack into a clean dry container such as a glass jar. Your camomile is now preserved!

 

To brew the tea simply add a few flower heads into your cup of boiled water and leave to stew for a few minutes.