Friday, 13 September 2013

Nasturtium Vinegar

If like us in Kerrouet your garden is awash with nasturtiums at the moment, you should try making some nasturtium vinegar! It has a powerful peppery flavour that is wonderful in salad dressings or sauces. Of course nasturtiums are great used just as they are in a whole range of salads  and desserts and we often use them to decorate dishes. The peppery taste combines particularly well with goats cheese. For the vinegar the whole flower and leaf may be used and it is a very simple process.

You will need:

1 cup nasturtium leaves, flowers, and buds
1 bottle of dry white wine vinegar


Place the ingredients in a clean clear glass bottle. Tightly seal. Let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Place a new nasturtium in the finished bottle for decoration, but make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Rose Hips are now ready to pick

It only took me 30 minutes to collect 10kg of beautiful rose hips on Sunday morning! The crop this year is exceptionally good given the warm sunny summer and just the right amount of rain one month ago which allowed the hips to swell and burst with flavour. The taste is only one reason one should collect rose hips. It is such a versatile fruit which allows one to create not just beautiful sauces, jams, desserts, chutneys but also teas and soft drinks. However people are also realising the extraordinary benefits of this fruit for both general well being and the high vitamin C (11 x that of oranges!) and antioxidants it contains. It was collected as far back as the middle ages for they were long aware of the health benefits and even as a child I remember my own grandmother dispensing home made rose hip syrup to us as children to ensure we were resistant to colds and flues.

One of the easiest and most popular dishes for rose hip is rose hip jam. You will need:

1 kg of rose hips washed and de-seeded
1 kg of sugar
1 liter water
1 vanilla pod (optional)


Collecting the rose hips is a joy as they are so easy to forage and collect. The hard part is de-seeding but well worth the effort as most of the flesh is where the taste and texture is. I have tried many methods of de-seeding (including freezing) but now simply pick firm rose hips and then once washed, I cut in half and using a small mustard spoon, swiftly extract the seeds from each half. If you don't have a mustard spoon try a teaspoon instead. Once de-seeded, place the rose hips in a pan of boiling water with the sugar and the vannila pod (Vanilla pod should be cut and the vanilla exposed). Gently boil for 15/20 minutes or until hips are soft. Once the jam has started to set, place in sterialised jars and allow to cool. The jam is wonderful as an accompaniment with goat cheese, bread rolls and I even place a large dollop on occasions in my porridge oats!