Category Archives: Homemade goodies

Homemade stock – a heavenly thing

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At some point during the last couple of years I decided that I did not want to keep using store bought stock. It is full of salt, taste enhancers and chemicals and I wanted to do something else. So I started looking at making my own stock and I thought it would be a lot more difficult that it is. But it is really not. I have even found that it helps me use more of the scraps that you get in a normal household. I use my freezer to save scraps from preparing and carving meat, bits of bacon, vegetables gone soft, spinach and herb stems from my garden and so on. All good things that you can use.

Homemade stock

Actually you can use a wide variety of ingredients but these are some of the ones I use.

Ingredients:

For 4 pots giving about 1.5 liters after reducing.

8 carrots – two pr. pot

4-8 onions including peels – 1-2 pr. pot

1-2 leeks – 1/2 pr. pot

Pork or beef scraps – as many as you have and evenly distributed among the pots

Spinach stems

Asparagus gone soft

Bacon scraps – as many as you have and evenly distributed among the pots

Ginger

Herbs

Garlic

Peppercorns

No salt – I don’t use salt as I prefer to add the salt to the dish the stock is going into. It also prevents that your stock gets too salty when reducing.

Some of the ingredients for stock
Some of the ingredients

You start of by searing the meat scraps and then you add the rest of the ingredients chopped into chunky pieces except herbs.

After searing add rest of ingredients exept herbs.
After searing add rest of ingredients except herbs.
The stock looks good already.
The stock looks good already.

After searing the ingredients with the meat for a bit add the herbs.

Add herbs to the stock.
Add herbs.
A good amount of parsley helps any stock.
A good amount of parsley helps any stock.

Add as much water as the pots can hold and bring to a boil. Leave at a slow boil.

Add water to the stock.
Add water to the stock.

When the stock is boiling remember to skim of the foam. There is a lot of grit in the foam and it is not nice to eat. So at regular intervals skim the foam into a bowl and throw it out.

The no good foam.
The no good foam.

It is looking good and you just have to wait for it to reduce. This is the part that takes time but it is something that can more or less mind itself. You just need to check on it once in a while.

Good stock.
Good stock.
Really good stock.
Really good stock.

As it reduces I empty the pots into each other. I try to keep as many of the ingredients but at some point they will not fit any more. At that point drain the liquid through a strainer into a pot. There is no more use for the vegetables unless you have pigs or chickens you can feed them to. If you make vegetable stock you can put it on your compost but if there is meat it has to go in the bin.

You now need to reduce the liquid until you have a stock with an intense flavor. For me 10 liters become about 1.5 liters of good stock.

1.5 liters of reduced stock.
1.5 liters of reduced stock.

Then the big question becomes – how do you save it in a way that allows you to use it over time. Some use bottles and keep it refrigerated and that works well if you plan to use it in the near future. I need it to keep longer than that so I use ice cube bags and put it in the freezer. I can then take the cubes I need for the dish I am doing.

Stock in icecube bags.
Stock in ice cube bags.
Frozen stock.
Frozen stock.

I make stock 3-4 times a year and I find that it is time well spent because it tastes great, helps me use scraps and helps me avoid some of the nasty  things in store bought stock.

I hope I have inspired you to experiment with your own stock – enjoy Sara

 

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Cordial: Elderflower, Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm

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I really enjoy making cordial and Elderflower cordial is my favorite. I use an old recipe from my grandmother and the flowers this year made for a fantastic cordial. But alas it is almost gone and the Elderflowers have turned to Elderberries. So what to do?

This is my cordial dispenser I keep in my fridge
This is my cordial dispenser I keep in my fridge

I found that I had quite a lot of Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm and thought maybe I could make cordial from these lovely herbs. So that is what I did and this is the recipe. I have added the recipe for Elderflower cordial at the bottom as well.

Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm cordial

The base of the cordial consists of water and sugar at a 1:1 scale, so you can upscale or downscale as needed. By using the 1:1 scale between sugar and water you also ensure that it will keep.

I wanted to use some lemons along with the herbs and decided on 4 different combinations. Mint with and without lemon and Lemon Balm with and without lemon. I always use organic citrus fruit as to avoid the pesticides in the skin of the fruit.

I found that the Lemon Balm without lemon didn’t taste of much so I mixed all of it with lemon. So I ended up with 3 combinations of cordial and I though the Mint would be my favorite but the Lemon Balm turned out surprisingly delicious.

My next experiment is to use Stevia as a sweetener and see how that turns out. There might be some issues about how it is going to keep without the high sugar content but it might be sorted by bringing the strained cordial to a boil just before pouring it in the bottles. We will see…

Chocolate Mint/Chocolate mint and lemon recipe

  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kg of organic sugar
  • A good handlful of Mint stems – I use them with stems, flowers and everything
  • 1 organic lemon ( if you are making the lemon variety)

Lemon Balm with lemon recipe

  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kg of organic sugar
  • A good handful of Lemon Balm stems – with flowers and everything
  • 2 organic lemons
  • a pack of either citric acid or vine acid for use in cordial and jams

I recycle these fantastic bottles that use to contain a really good French lemonade. You do need to use a bottle that can be closed securely. I prefer to use glass to plastic a plastic has a tendency to react to hot substances and some even leak nasty things into the content. So I use glass.

Recycled bottles
Recycled bottles – 0,75 liter

You need to clean your bottle well and I use preferable coarse salt for my initial cleaning. Salt is disinfectant and if you use coarse salt it has an abrasive quality that makes it easier to clean in the hard to reach areas of the bottle. It is really good for cleaning a thermos as well. After a good cleaning I scald them with boiling water.

Cleaning with salt
Cleaning with salt

I picked a good portion of my Chocolate Mint and Lemon balm to go in the cordial

Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm
Chocolate Mint and Lemon Balm

I slice the lemons finely and add them to the water and herbs

Herbs, lemons and water
Herbs, lemons and water

The Mint looks so lovely with the flowers

Chocolate Mint
Chocolate Mint

There is a liter of water in each pot and 1 kg of sugar has been added to each.

Add sugar
Add sugar

Bring everything to a boil.

It looks pretty while you cook it
It looks pretty while you cook it

Leave to simmer for a good half hour.

Simmer away
Simmer away

Strain the herbs and lemons out of the cordial.

Strain the cordial
Strain the cordial

Fill your bottle with your liquid gold.

Fill bottles
Fill bottles

End result: 2 bottles of Chocolate Mint, 2 bottles of Chocolate Mint and lemon, 4 bottles of Lemon Balm and lemon

They will keep for at least a year if your bottles are clean.

End result
End result

Elderflower cordial

Recipe

  • 30 large Elderflowers in full Bloom – you can use a couple that are just before blooming to get the lovely stuff inside the flowers before the bees do
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 6 organic oranges
  • 2 kg of organic sugar – you can use brown sugar, but I prefer my cordial a bit lighter and fresher
  • 1 pack of citric acid for use in cordial and jams
  • 1,5 liter of water

Put the flowers in a big bowl large enough to contain all of the ingredients. Don’t wash the flowers as it will wash away all the good stuff. There will be bugs in the mix but you will sift them all out before bottling, so don’t worry.

Slice the lemons and oranges and add to the bowl with the citric acid. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar before pouring it into the bowl. Leave the bowl covered for 3 days. I usually use a plate and something to weigh it down. Both to keep the surface area exposed to the air to a minimum but also to keep the lemon and orange slices down.

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial

Strain the cordial to remove all the flowers, slices and the occasional bug. I like to squeeze the lemons and orange slices adding the extra juice. You can make 3 different kinds from one batch by straining all the cordial and then take a liter of the cordial and add the lemon juices and another liter where you add the orange juices. That gives you Elderflower cordial, Elderflower cordial with lemon and Elderflower cordial with orange. That is maximizing your output 🙂

End result: 3 bottles of Elderflower cordial, 2 bottle of Elderflower cordial with lemon, 3 bottles of Elderflower cordial with orange

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower cordial

Enjoy – Sara

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Gooseberry relish – a surprising and wonderful use for gooseberries

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After the pies are eaten, the jams are made and all the other things you can think of doing with fresh berries, what to do with the rest of your gooseberries? I had a bag of gooseberries in the freezer from last season and I didn’t know what to do with them. I found this great recipe for gooseberry relish which is quite easy and very delicious. Recipe:

  • 500 grams of gooseberries
  • 250 grams of tomatoes
  • 2 red peppers
  • 125 grams of onions
  • 1 large glove of garlic
  • 2 deciliters of vinegar
  • 1 deciliter of syrup
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Pickling spices: 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of white/black/red peppercorns and a couple of small dried chilies depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 whole ginger
  • 3-4 jars – I usually re-use jars from jam and such

Before you get started you need to make sure that your utensils and pots are squeaky clean. Hygiene is very important when pickling and we want to do this without any preservatives other than the sugar and vinegar in the recipe. So if you want your relish to last make sure everything is clean.

Onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes.
Onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes.

Remove the tops and ends of the gooseberries. Scald the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes and remove the skin. You don’t have to do this but even when blended the skins are no fun to eat. Chop the onions really fine to release as much flavor as possible. If small tomatoes cut them in half, if big tomatoes cut them in quarters or eights.

2014-07-13 12.37.33

Chop up the peppers. Peel the ginger. Put the gooseberries, tomatoes, peppers and onions in a good size pot. Add the pressed glove of garlic, vinegar, syrup, sugar and salt. I like to use a good quality flake salt. Mix together.

Flake salt, this is Maldon salt.
Flake salt, this is Maldon salt.

Add the pickling spices and the whole peeled ginger in the pot. In Denmark we can buy these spices in a bag to put in.

Pickling spices and ginger.
Pickling spices and ginger.

To make you own spice bag take the mustard seeds, peppercorns and chilies and put in a tea holder or one of those large teabags you can tie with a knot and add to the mix. You need to be able to remove the spices aging when the mix is done cooking or the flavors will overpower the rest. You can also dice the ginger and put it in a teabag or tea holder; as long as you can remove it after cooking. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. When you wait for the mix to cook you can start preparing the jars for the finished product. Hygiene is key when pickling and you need to make sure your jars are free from bacteria and other nasty stuff. First you clean your jars thoroughly then you can use one of these methods to sterilize your jars:

  1. Scald your jars in boiling water, but be careful not to get burned on the boiling water. I take my washtub and place my jars in it and pour the boiling water into them until it flows over the side of the jar. I take out the jars and empty them with wooden pliers, again you have to be careful. Don’t dry them just empty them out and place them on a cloth right side up and they are ready for the finished product.
  2. Put the dry jars in the oven at a 120 degrees Celsius and leave them for at least 20 minutes. This is kind of a waste of energy if you only have 2-3 jars, but if you have a large quantity of jars it is very useful.
  3. Use the dishwasher on the hottest program and only take out the jars when you are going to fill them. Again this is a waste of energy if you only have a few jars but is good for a large quantity of jars.
  4. Boil your jars in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Also quite effective but you have to have a big pot to do this and the steam is quite hot to work in.
Jars for the finished product.
Jars for the finished product.

Now your jars are prepped for the finished product. When the mix is done you need to blend it using a hand blender or an ordinary blender. Blend until smooth.

Hand blender.
Hand blender.

If you are happy with the consistency you are ready to fill your jars. If you find that the mix is still a bit too runny bring it to the boil again and leave to simmer for 10-20 minutes to reduce. Keep an eye on the taste as it intensifies when you reduce it and you don’t want it to strong or salty to eat. Fill your jars and close while still hot. As they cool the lid will usually pop and then you know it is sealed properly and ready for keeping. If placed in a dark/cool place like a cupboard it will keep for more than a year when sealed. It does not need to be kept in the fridge. After opening it will keep for a good while, I can’t give you a specific timeframe; you have to use your eyes to see if it spoils. Pickling does not come with specific expiration dates.

Finished product.
Finished product.

This relish has a spicy, slightly sweet/sour taste to it and can be use with cheese, beef or pork, with fries and works wonders in a good burger. The use is up to you and your taste buds. Enjoy… Sara

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