Monday night preserving – currant cordial, toffee vodka, redcurrant jelly

What a week of harvest! It’s a full time job when things get going isn’t it? We harvested everything in the below photo on Sunday.
Buster is just making sure things are in order.
Now technically I don’t think toffee vodka is a preserve? Regardless it is going on my Monday night slot as the quickest, simplest vodka recipe we have done so far.  Ste’s Mam mentioned that she had some toffee vodka last Christmas and she really liked it.  We popped a packet of Werthers in a litre of vodka and hey presto, job done. We are shaking it twice a day until the toffees dissolve completely.
The colour isn’t that attractive but we’re told it’s a lovely warming drink on the cold winter nights.  What I didn’t realise is the kilner jar is a 3 litre one!  Not to worry, it’ll be freed up soon for the next item and this won’t take long to dissolve.
Next up was another alcoholic Christmssy drink.
Earlier this year I read on Tricia’s, Tarragon and Thyme blog about cherry brandy and thought we have to give that a go.  We’ve just harvested cherries from a couple of our trees before the birds got to them so the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
Again, it is very simple to do.  We added pierced cherrys to a bottle of brandy and 300g sugar. For extra Christmas feel I popped a cinnamon stick in too. In a couple of months we will strain it all and keep the cherries for something else, no doubt also Christmassy.
Next up on the harvest was the currant bushes. Goodness me they take a while to harvest but it was enjoyable as we all sat around the currant bush and just chatted on together.
We harvested 1.6kg black currants (this time) and 2.5kg red currants. It was our second harvest of black currants, the first lot are in the freezer.
The black currants were made into a super quick cordial and some of the red were too. Recipe as follows:
Put 1kg berries and 300ml water on low heat and simmer for 10 mins. Mash with potato masher to speed things up. Don’t do this is you prefer a clearer juice (you’ll get less cordial for your money if you do that though). Strain through a muslin cloth and the resulting juice should be added to granulated sugar:  for every 500ml liquid add 300g sugar. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add 1tsp citric acid and stir. Bottle into sterilised bottles. It is delicious. These will be used quickly so we didn’t water bath but if they were for Christmas then we’d water bath.
You will see I also made more strawberry jam which I’ve blogged about before. I’m sticking with that recipe as it’s divine and I have received so many compliments for my first batch that I don’t want to change a thing. On potting up, I filled these jars even more than last time, so they were virtually over flowing. Fingers crossed it is as nice and for no mould!
I’ve also started some redcurrant jelly tonight which I’ll finish telling you about tomorrow as when I’ve gone to make the recipe tonight, I need to let it drip overnight.
Here’s what I’ve done for now.
I’ve added 400ml to 1kg currants and simmered for 45 minutes. I’m draining this through a jelly bag tonight ready to finish tomorrow night.

Young hen eggs, new life and redcurrant cordial (and menu plan 4)

My blog seems to have had it knickers in a knot with pictures and postings, user error I’m sure, so apologies if you see things twice!  I think I have it fixed now though.  Just in time for this, my 100thblog post!

Of our many chickens, I have 2, a cockerel and a hen that are a special breed to me, Lakenvelder.  I think they’re stunning looking in black, white and red and always draw my attention.  They were 22 weeks old on 23rd July which is the age the book’s say they start to lay, or thereabouts.  Well can you believe that my lovely little hen laid her first small egg on 23rd July!  Good for her!  Once she’s in full swing we will maybe pop a few in the incubator to see if they’re fertile.  I think one more batch this year will probably do us.  We have our second lot of home bred eggs hatching at the moment.  We popped them in the incubator with some eggs (Jersey Giant breed) that we bought from the auction we attended.  We have 5 hatched so far from 20, 4 of our own and 1 auction egg.

Each year we will be hatching a lot of our own birds for laying, eating and selling on.  I know Dawn over on Doing It For Ourselves has had her last lot in the incubator this year, so it’s interesting to see when people stop for the year along with why.  I love the variety in everyone’s blogs that I follow and I learn so much, it really has helped us starting out on this journey and will continue to do so I’m sure.

In kitchen news, Steven is getting into this smallholding lark including the grow your own and make your own.  He’s made redcurrant cordial to sit alongside the blackcurrant cordial he made and my elderflower cordial.  We didn’t have any nice looking bottles for the occasion as it was all rather spontaneous, so they went in sterilised plastic/glass bottles.  I will get some glass ones for items we’re wanting to preserve to keep through winter and into the new year (you have no idea the joy that I feel when I say that, I love being able to “cook for the future”).

The elderflower and blackcurrant cordial are nearly finished and I plan to make jam from the remaining blackcurrants and raspberry vodka from the flush of raspberries that seem to have arrived since the last picking.
I’ve done the usual menu plan over on the blog’s menu plan page that I’m going to try and start using.  So Menu plan 4 for week 31 is out there now.  I’m also going to start a recipe page for recipes that I’ve found I liked and used our harvest well.  I’m not sure if the best format is an additional page or just to include them as part of the blog.  We’ll see.
Red currant cordial, yum
My cockerel