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Nasturtium capers and haw-sin sauce

Two quick recipes today.

Nasturtium capers
Ripe, yet still green nasturtium seeds
Brine (100g salt/ liter of water)
Spiced vinegar (vinegar that has been steeped with a spice of your choice, eg. pepper corns, mace etc.)

Pick enough nasturtium seeds as many nasturtium seeds as you would need
Wash them then steep them in brine
After 2 days, drain them and pack them into smallish jars, leaving 2cm between the top of the seeds and the top of the jar
Cover with cold, spiced vinegar and put the lid on
These should be ready for use after a month
Enjoy as part of tartare sauce or anywhere the recipe calls for capers

Haw-sin sauce (adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall)

500g haw berries (berries from a haw thorn tree)
250ml cider vinegar (any fruit vinegar will do)
250ml water
250g sugar
salt and black pepper to taste

Remove most of the stalks from the haw berries, rinse the berries in cold water
Put the berries into a pot with the water and the vinegar, bring to the boil. Simmer for around 30 mins till the skins start to split
Remove from the heat and rub the mixture through a colander to leave the stones behind, use a little additional water to wash as much of the pulp off of the stones as possible
Return the mixture to a clean pan, add the sugar and heat it gently, stirring constantly till the sugar dissolves
Bring to the boil and cook for another 5-10 mins till the sauce reduces and becomes somewhat syrupy
Season with salt and pepper to taste then pour into hot, sterilised bottles
Use where you would use hoi-sin sauce

    Apple Vinegar

    Apple scrap vinegar

    This is undoubtedly the easiest, most frugal, most useful and hence the most pleasurable substance that I have made recently. (And it is delicious) This recipe is adapted from Katz’s brilliant book ‘Wild Fermentation‘ where he calls it fruit scrap vinegar.

    I use apple scraps as that is what I have the most of, however other fruit scraps will do, including banana.

    When I say apple scraps, I mean the peels, the cores, the bruises, the grubs, and everything in between that is not being turned into sauce, jelly or pies. I do not use the big bruises that are obviously growing fungi though. No need to wash the apples first, as the micro-organisms present in the skin aid the vinegar making process.


    • Place apple scraps in a stainless steel or plastic container
    • Cover with water
    • Add 4tbs of sugar per liter of water added
    • Use a plate to submerge the fruit pieces
    • Cover with a tea towel
    • Stir occasionally, leave for a week
    • After a week or so, remove fruit pieces and compost them with plenty of brown matter like paper
    • Allow the liquid to ferment for a further 2 weeks, still covered with the tea towel
    • Stir occasionally
    • It is done when it tastes like vinegar
    • Remove the mother and use it to start off the next batch or to turn a failed wine into vinegar (the mother is the white film that may develop, I got two mothers from my first batch!
    • Strain your apple vinegar into clean bottles and use for pickling, sauce making or for when you need apple cider vinegar


    apple scrap vinegar

    Elderberry cordial/syrup and elderberry jam

    Stripping elderberries from stems with a fork

    This has been the first year in which I have properly utilised the abundance that hangs on elder trees at this time of the year. Now is the time to go find elderberries as the birds are now munching on them. Elderberries are seemingly excellent for boosting the immune system, and are supposed to be good medicine for giving to sufferers of colds and flues. Here follows the recipe that I use for making the cordial.

    Strip your elderberries from the stems using a fork, into a pot or slow cooker, gently simmer the berries with a little water till mushy. (Slow cooker works well as it does not get to too high a temperature, thus preserving most of the health giving properties of the berries)

    Use a masher to release as much juice as possible, and strain through a jellybag or nylon sieve to remove the pulp from the juice. Measure the juice, and to every 1L of juice, add 625g sugar (the juice is at this time cold, so using caster sugar will ensure that all of the sugar dissolves), mix this in and bottle it up into clean, scalded bottles. Old tomato-sauce bottles work well, also vinegar bottles.

    Canning the juice

    The next step is to can these bottles, this is done because there is not enough sugar in the solution to act as a natural preservative. Don’t worry, canning is easy (when you have a thermometer). Into a deep pot (stock pot is ideal) put a folded up dish towel, place the bottles onto the tea towel and wedge more tea towels or newspaper around them so that they do not touch each other or the sides of the stock pot. Fill the pot with water so that water comes up to the level of the juice (it is useful to use bottles that are the same height), you do not want water getting in to the lid. Apply heat and allow the temperature to rise to 77 degrees C, you want to keep it at this temperature for 30 mins. If it goes much above 90 degrees, many of the health-giving properties of the elderberry may be lost. After 30 mins, remove them from the pot and ensure that their lids are firmly on. Congratulations, you have done some canning!

    Remember the elderberry pulp that that is sitting in the jelly bag? Well that can be turned into jam- delicious jam. Some sources say to sieve the seeds out, but I don’t think that seeds are a problem, sure isn’t red current or gooseberry jam riddled with seeds? It is a good idea to use either jam sugar or a few apples to provide the pectin for this one. There are plenty of recipes for jam on the internet, so enough said.

    Go on, enjoy some elderberries while they are still around