Sunday, 22 June 2008

The scent of paradise

The scullery smells divine. Sitting on the cobbled floor is a large bucket filled with lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, a splash of cider vinegar and heaps of elder flowers.
I keep going in there, and yes, I am inhaling.
It's a very first attempt at elderflower champagne. What with the flowers nodding at me every time I walk the dogs, and empty cider making kit taking up space until October and the apple harvest, it would have been unseemly to resist.
I can't imagine an easier harvest for picking; no thorns, no nettles, no peeling or pulping or stoning. Just a quick click of the secateurs, a gentle shake to dislodge any insects, and you're done. It's like making food from clouds.
If the flowers continue to oblige, next weekend I'll have a go at some elderflower cordial.
And having just re-read this, I can imagine folks snorting into their beer over the feyness of it all. Chin-chin!


Totty Teabag said...

Be sure to use strong bottles and wire the tops down well; I can tell you that exploding Elderflower Fizz makes one hell of a mess of your cupboards...

KAZ said...

Cheers Mopsa!
After reading your link, I don't think I'll be saying 'chin-chin' from now on.

paula said...

Another 'snap'!

I have a pan full of the heavenly stuff in the larder too. Fragrant unless the only flowers available are from the cat-pee-smell-tree!

Winchester whisperer said...

Good luck, Mopsa. As Totty says, the fermenting can make the bottles explode so be careful where you store them.

Flowerpot said...

I've always wanted to try that Mopsa - enjoy!!

Mopsa said...

Totty - how exactly do I wire the caps on?

Any time, Kaz - couldn't resist!

Snap and sniff, Paula!

WW - outside storage is being discussed!

F'pot, I'll let you know if it's worth the (small) effort.

60 going On 16 said...

Yes, I'm making this too. Perhaps we should we organise a cross-Devon tasting? After the tips re exploding bottles, I think I'll be storing mine in the ancient, crumbling outhouse.

Totty Teabag said...

Ask all your friends to save their champagne/perry bottles, or look for ones that have a good lip under the mouth. Use strong string or wire to tie under the lip and then over the stopper. If you want to be sure, you can buy plastic stoppers and wires here, for about twenty pence each, but I expect you can find them in your end of the UK.

Ian said...

Hi there,

Sorry to be a bit off topic there, but....

The reason I’m writing is because I am a big fan of farmers’ blogs, and I got frustrated at spending too much time trying to find good ones and then forgetting to bookmark them.
So, I’ve started

The idea is simple. I ask farm bloggers I like to recommend bloggers they like; I then write to those that they have recommended, as I am writing to you, and ask you to send me a brief description of your blog, and the farm blogs that you recommend.

You were recommended by Tim at Field Day.

I’ve put a link to you on (If you can do the same for that would be great.)

All I ask is that you send me a brief email to info AT with a few words about your farm, your blog AND your own favorite farmers’ blogs.

I then make a brief posting, add your recommendations, contact the blogs you recommend, and so it goes.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
P.S This is a no-advertising, entirely for fun, worldw-wide community driven blog. I also do regular news postings on world agriculture of all types.

P.P.S I don't usually self-promote quite this early, but as I see you have a reading list, can I suggest my book? Here's a few words about it...

‘A PLACE IN MY COUNTRY: In Search of a Rural Dream’
by Ian Walthew
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, hardcover July 2007; Phoenix paperback May 1, 2008)

'Stressed city couple seeks slower life in Cotswolds idyll'. The premise is so familiar there's even a predictably technical term for it: 'downshifting'. Yet it's hard to think in those terms about A Place in My Country, given the care with which Ian Walthew has skirted all the sprung traps of nostalgia and sentiment…Avoiding the usual bland elegy for the rustic and redemptive, his book is a valuable memoir, both personal and social, a meditation on belonging in one of many Englands.’
The Observer

‘I have been reading about the British countryside all my life but this is the first post-modern take on a national asset so routinely taken for granted. Author Ian Walthew takes a 12-inch plough to the cosy complacency that so many apply to the subject and reveals that 21st century rural life is not a place for the genteel - in a corner of Gloucestershire most commonly viewed by outsiders from their 4x4s as they hurry to overpriced weekend retreats, he finds a farming heartbeat that is proud and defiant, defended by a cast of characters that outshine The Archers. A revelation of a book.’
Tim Butcher
Author of Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
(Galaxy Book of the Year 2008, 3rd Prize Winner)

'Far from being an idealistic paen to the English countryside, the book becomes a hard-edged and moving account of life rural Britain today.'
Sunday Times

'a poignant portrait of country life....the book could have been a rollicking, laugh-a-minute riff on ignorant townies having to ask what exactly a heifer is. There are certainly some fine comic episodes.. but it quickly turns into something more sombre - and more interesting...His beautifully written book is an elegy for an England that is dying, or at least in terminal decline.'
Daily Telegraph

‘compelling and often deeply moving… Walthew’s own struggle with age-old issues of identity, friendship, community and a place to call home are fresh, sympathetic and never trying…a page-turner, but that’s exactly what it turn's out to be.’
Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall

‘an affecting and inspiring memoir. What sets it apart from others of its ilk is the author’s enviable immunity to cliché and his determination to love his homeland better than he used to. His elegiac account of relearning how to be an Englishman should be required reading for anyone who claims to know or love this country.’
Financial Times
‘Funny, touching and ultimately very moving, this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England.’
Sunday Telegraph
‘Even peripheral characters…really come to life; as does the beauty of the Cotswolds and the harsh realities it conceals. A Place in My Country is an edifying consideration of the English countryside, its rich history and its attempt to adapt in today’s world’
Times Literary Supplement
‘A riveting read....a warning to newcomers about the dangers of upsetting village hierarchies and sensibilities'
Country Life

‘One of “The Top Ten Summer Holiday Books You Must Own”
Mail on Sunday


Arthur Clewley said...

perhaps you should get hold off some of those old fashioned pop bottles with the marble in the neck mopsa. You could store Nitroglycerine in those without losing a drop. ah, those summers of my youth...

garfer said...

Can you distil it into elderflower vodka?

If so, put me down for a case.

Mopsa said...

60-16 - me too!

Ohh - Totty - thanks for the link - very useful.

Arthur - they have a romance about them, don't they?

Garfer - Vigo sells working distiller models but carefully reminds the reader that to actually use them is illegal...sigh.