I’ve just finished making my own sauerkraut. It was fermented for just over 2 weeks. Actually some is still going. The longer you leave it (making sure there is no oxygen getting to it) the more probiotics it will have … Continue reading

Wine updates :-)

Im quite excited by and pleased with the results! This is just after the sugar went in to the blackberry one. It fizzed away quite dramatically very shortly after this was taken. You might like to put it on a … Continue reading

Rosey Rosehips! Top 10 ways to use rosehips.

Foraging rosehips is pretty easy,ย  I often read it can be prickly and time consuming but no more so than blackberries in my humble opinion. Less staining. I think the point of foraging is to spend the time outdoors and … Continue reading

Bustin’ Blackberries; Cordial, tea, wine, liqueur, muffins

Its the very beginning of October and there are still large fat blackberries to find (if you cant get fresh ones you can use frozen)


Late in September, still plenty around this year.


We managed to pick a couplE of kilos! I used them fresh and froze some for later

1.For cordial

This is a simple recipe, you can spice it up with star anise, cinnamon, use apples/oranges etc. I just made plain simple blackberry cordial which I can add things too later for cooking with (a reduced sauce on game, or in desserts, a spicy liqeuer for cocktails etc) or just add water to for drinking. It also goes very nicely with bourbon btw!

1kg of blackberries

1.5 litres water

500g sugar

I soaked the blackberries in the sink very quickly and gave them a rinse, picking off stalks/leaves and debris.

Add them to the pan with the water and boil for around 10 mins.

strain the fruit through a (clean) piece of muslin or tea towel over a bowl or saucepan (no need to leave overnight).

Add the sugar to your juice stir ’til dissolved on a lower heat and then bring to the boil.

pour into sterilised jars or bottles. -keeps for around 3 months.

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2.For liqueur

I use a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar (acid,sugar and alcohol preserve the product)

I half filled my jars with the cleaned blackberries (see above )

weighed them and added them to a blow/pan with the same weight of sugar

I left this to settle and soak for an hour or two as I was busy with other things

I reurned to fill the sterilised jars half way with the mixture

topped up with vodka (your cheapest will do we just need the preserving quailities of the alcohol)

fastened lids tightly left for a month in a dark warm spot

after a month strain through muslin or a tea towel into clean sterilised bottles

best left a further couple of months to mature though can use after a week or two

You’re wondering why strain then leave again aren’t you? becasue you’re paying attention. Well blackberries, unlike other berries, have a little woody core in the middle (raspberries stay on the stems as you pick) and it tastes better if you take that out.

You could also try adding red wine with the sugar and gently heating, then straining the blackberries out, add a cupful of vodka and fill your bottles ๐Ÿ˜‰

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3.For tea

Apparently you can dry blackberries but I imagine its a tricky process and I haven’t tried because it seems easier to freeze them

I have found a couple of fresh/frozen blackberries are delicious with fresh (or dried) mint

Just pop them into the diffuser in the centre of yor pot or use as you would leaf tea (get the strainer out)


4. volcano muffins

55g butter

100g golden caster sugar

2 eggs

100ml full fat milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder110g fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and line with muffin cases.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well blended then beat in the milk and vanilla extract.

In a bowl sift together the flour and baking powder then mix and add to the muffin mixture. Add the blackberries and stir through, ensuring that they are evenly distributed. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and fill to 2/3 full.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.


I softened up the berries and swirled them in.

5. Wine (makes 6 bottles) Courtesy of River Cottage.

You can make blackberry wine! I have aroundย  7lb left in the freezer to do this. At the moment my fermenter is full of rosehips but when these are strained into demi johns in a few days I will be making blackberry wine. (I shall endeavour to remember to add the photos!) *updated, straining in 3 day, so will add more, I added some pear as didnt have quite enough blackberries I also had to use ordinary wine yeast but read this is fine*

3lbs blackberries

2 lbs caster sugar

sachet wine yeast

1 tsp yeast nutrient

1 tspn pectic enzyme/pectolase

1 gallon boiling water

1. Pick 3lb blackberries when ripe and dry (I was a little short and topped up with pears)

2. Wash well, being careful to remove any small maggots that can be found in blackberries.

3. Place the fruit in a polythene bucket and crush it with a potato masher.

4. Pour over a gallon of boiling water. Stir well, allow to become lukewarm (about 21 c) then add the pectic enzyme according to instructions on the pack.


5. Leave for 24 hours, then add the port wine yeast and yeast nutrient (1 teaspoon of each) Cover closely and leave for four days, stirring daily.


6. Strain the blackberry liquor through muslin or a nylon sieve, onto 2 lbs of caster sugar.


It fizzes away quite nicely, you can rest it on a teatowel incsae it spills over

7. Pour into a demijohn, filling it to the shoulder and fit an airlock.

8. Keep the spare liquor in a bottle, fitted with a trap of moist cotton wool.

9. When the wine in the demijohn has stopped fermenting vigorously, (after about a week) top it up to the base of the neck with the spare liquor and refit the airlock.

10. Wait until the wine has stopped fermenting (no bubbles passing through the airlock) then siphon it off into another sterilised demijohn

11. This wine should clear naturally.


12. Bottle in dark green wine bottles, and cork.

13. This wine will improve if left for 6 months, but can be drunk after a week in the bottle if you can’t wait!

14. Enjoy!

How to make Kombucha and Kefir

How to make Kombucha and Kefir

I came across Kombucha and Kefir through friends. When they described what they were making and and how they were using it I was fascinated. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (lovely pro-biotics.) This is what both Kombucha (kom-boosh-a) and Kefir (keh-fear) are made with, though different types with different ingredients. I was intrigued, science experiments, food products, knowledge and creativity all in one go, excellent. It doesnt get more interesting than that for me (except maybe using the SCOBY from Kombucha to make into shoes and clothes! more on that later.)


Some my Kombucha brewing in jars (you can see the SCOBY)

ย Some of my Kefir ready to use


Kombucha is expensive as an organic healthfood drink. I have to also point out that success rates using the bought ones as a starter tea are low. It seems there isnt enough of the good stuff in what you can buy. More reason to make it. It starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a SCOBY that is very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar. The scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming the tea into a fizzy, refreshing healthy beverage full of probiotics with low sugar. Lets take a moment to imagine carbonated sodas..


The cool stuff that floats on top, it’s rubbery and slightly spongy, brown stringy bits hang from it. My 12 y old boy thinks its weird and fascinating. So do I. It would seem the bacteria and yeast form this jelly-like layer of cellulose at the top of the kombucha to protect the fermenting tea from the air and help maintain a very specific environment inside the jar and shield it from unfriendly bacteria. It has been around for a very long time -before our modern disinfectants and anti-bacterials ๐Ÿ˜‰ If the SCOBY is healthy then the Kombucha will be. It is a living thing and changes are normal and will usually reflect changes of the environment (your kitchen) It will smell nasty and cheesy rather than vinegary if something has gone wrong. If you see signs of mold, throw it all away and start from scratch. If the scoby becomes black, or develops green or black mold, it is has become infected or is past its life span and will also need to be thown away. Look after your magical weird and friendly SCOBY and it will look after you. Make your tea carefully and peel off the bottom (or oldest) layer every few batches. You could give it to a friend to start their own along with enough brew for a starter tea. Failing that you can purchase them online, be sure to validate their quality. You can also make your own starter tea using cider/unpasteurised white vinegar. Starter tea is acidic and keeps out the unfriendly bacterias during early brewing.


Im going to start you off with a small amount because I assume you only have one or two SCOBYs from a friend and a couple of jars. Most online recipes have double this.ย  Dont use antibac to wash your hands ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • You need around 3 pints of water and boil this for 5 mins to purify it
  • Add 3/4 tea bags (or a tablespoon of loose tea)
  • Stir in 100g sugar til dissolved and leave it to cool (you can try green or oolong too, but avoid flavoured. Earl grey is said to be difficult as it has a higher oil content.)
  • Wait until room temperature before adding the SCOBY and prepare your jar as you would for a preserve (in the oven on a low setting for 10 mins is fine.)
  • Add to your jar when cool then add the starter tea or vinegar (should make up around 10%)
  • Slide the SCOBY onto to the top (do not wear gloves) cover with cheesecloth or paper towels and secure with an elastic band. It needs to be breathable but able to keep out fruit flies.

I now have a ‘Kombucha cupboard’ The scoby multiplies with every use and you keep a continous cycle going.

  • Place somewhere warm and preferably dark (certainly not in direct sunlight or a draught) and where it wont be knocked. for around a week to 10 days check on it occasionally, you should see the SCOBY growing and the stringy bits forming. It may be positioned anywhere in the jar. You can taste it once it smells vinegary, if the SCOBY has formed use it now if you like it or leave it til it has a more appealing flavour.

    When it is ready to bottle you can prepare your tea for the next batch and have it ready for your SCOBY Which will have made you a baby, so now you have 2! Remember to save your starter tea’s from this batch before bottling. Bottling creates carbonation, and adds the fizz. Be aware of the lids you choose if you carbonate, I use the swing top bottles.To carbonate bottle up to the top and leave on the work top for 2-3 days then refigerate before use. You can flavour kombucha with freshly squeezed fruit juice or pieces of fruit/herbs in the bottle or you could add flavouring ingredients and leave with the cheesecloth cover for a day or two, then strain and bottle so it has no bits. It tastes better cold and this stops carbonation (and fermentation if you go on holiday)

    ย This is an Oolong tea brew that is carbonating with orange


    If you ever forget a batch and leave it brewing too long it is still useful (dont believe the wiki how on this and throw it away!) It makes kombucha vinegar which can be used in home made hair and beauty products, cleaning products, salad dressings and marinades ๐Ÿ™‚
    Almost forgot. This is really cool. Remember one scoby will make whatever size batch you require. You could make a bathtub full and it will make a bath sized scoby! If you dried that out what could you do with it? well this lady made a bit of an interesting breakthrough in the textile industry with shoes and a skirt! ๐Ÿ˜€ Are you getting ideas for patchwork scoby’s? or you could just compost them.


    You’ll be pleased to know this is a bit easier. You will need a friend to donate a little with some grains in, the Kefir grains are the SCOBY. Milk Kefir (you can get water kefir too) is a lot like the expensive yogurt drinks you can buy but they are a lot more expensive and less effective. Kefir also has the added beneficial yeast as well as beneficial bacteria. It also reduces the lactose content of the milk by quite a bit. Add the grains to your prepared jar and add your milk to the jar, you could experiment with how much to use, the grains will grow and multiply over time. Then leave the jar in a warm spot in the kitchen until it thicken, typically a day or two.
    The flavour changes over time and becomes more tart and thick when it begins to seperate into curds and whey, at this point or just before you should stir the jar again and strain the grains to use again. The liquid is your lovely creamy, tart, probiotic drink. You can make it into fruit smoothies or even leave the kefir to a point where you can make cheese my straining through a cheesecloth and pressing. My grains are still multiplying but when I have enough I want to have a go at this! You could flavour kefir cheese too with fruit or herbs. Store unused grains in the fridge or pass on to friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ You can also eat them or compost them.

Kefir can be used just about anywhere that buttermilk, yoghurt or cream cheese may be used. Other great ways to use kefir are:

  • In smoothies
  • To tenderize meat instead of yoghurt
  • Served with fruit
  • In a cold soup
  • In an ice cream recipe
  • Poured over cereal
  • Used instead of yoghurt to make
  • In a healthy milkshake recipe
  • As a leavening agent
  • In place of buttermilk in baking
  • As a starter for a sourdough recipe
  • To make a herbed cream cheese, or a fruit-flavoured cream cheese
  • To ferment grains or flours
  • To help dephytinize grains, cereals, nuts and seeds
  • In a salad dressing
  • In a pasta sauce

I have to link to this mans blog and Kefir crusade. It has anything and everything else you might want to know about kefir ๐Ÿ™‚