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Friday, March 13, 2015

Elderberry Preparation and Preserving

I have already written before about elderberry tincture and you can easily make it into a cordial, elixir, shrub etc. and benefit from it's wonderful healing and health properties. Remember to follow directions, remove stems and strain the pulp containing the seeds as both stems and seeds have an emetic effect. A number of blogs are failing to advise this important step.

Due to popular demand within the family and friend circle I have harvested three times as much as in previous years. One day this week I spent 5 hours in total removing the berries from the stems and usually the staining washes off but this time the deep purple has remained quite stubborn around my nail areas. I now have about four kilos of berries macerating in vodka.

Pick them at their peak when heads are heavy and full of plump healthy berries. I harvest into woven baskets and let them sit a while somewhere cool, this allows the critters time to escape and find new lodgings. I always give them a good swishing wash in a sink full of water to remove any webs, dust and bird poo. You will have a couple of days window of opportunity to de-stalk but I have found the sooner you do it after harvest the better they pop off the stalks. Some people use a fork to rake the berries from the stems but I'm a bit fussy. 

The rest pictured above are washed and drying. on teatowel covered racks. Once they loose a bit more moisture I will hang them in a calico bag to completely dry off for emergency dry stores in case we run out of tincture. Once dry the stalks are easily rubbed and winnowed away and they can be re-hydrated. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Pee-Wee Pot

Just Look!
I found a half size Fowlers pot to match my big Bertha one.
I ummed and aahhed about buying it, wondering if I was just bringing more "stuff" into the house but it has turned out to be a wonderful buy.
It is perfect for doing small batches at the start of the season, for instance if I only have enough for bottling six #27 of tomatoes instead of the 12-13 that I can fit into the big one.
It is also PERFECT for processing my #10 bottles which I use for tomato paste, chilli sauce and pickled nasturtium seeds.
And for the height of the season like this morning...
I have both of them going at once!

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