This year seems to be a great year for rhubarb and strawberries. The plot is awash with bright red berries, and the rhubarb is looking more and more like its giant cousin, Gunnera. As the weather hots up, its always good to be able to turn to a homemade thirst quencher, with the sweetness of the strawberries contrasting with the tart rhubarb.
You will need (Makes about 1.5 litres)
1kg rhubarb (chopped into large chunks)
1 tsp Citric acid (if you want to keep coridal for long time)
Place your rhubarb & strawberries in a large saucepan. Add 200 ml of water to the pan. Bring slowly to the boil, crushing the fruit gently with a wooden spoon or, as I did, a potato masher, as it heats. Continue to heat gently until the fruit is soft and the juices flow. Scald a jelly bag or muslin square and suspend over a large bowl or pan. Tip the fruit into it and leave to drip overnight in an undistrubed place. t
The next day, take the juice and pour into a clean pan. For every 1 litre of juice add 700g sugar (or to taste). If you want the cordial to last for a long while, then add a tsp of citric acid at this point. It prevents fermentation occuring in the bottle, ensuring you don’t have any exploding bottles later in the year. Heat the mixture gently to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat. Pour immediately into warm, sterilised bottles, leaving a 1cm gap at the top. Seal. Once cool, I like to enjoy my cordial with ice cold sparkling water.
With the summer firmly arrived; we are starting to see the fruits of the hard work at the allotment over the winter and spring. In the case of the strawberries and raspberries this is a literal fruiting; and when it comes to the former, in abundance. The strawberries are ever popular with the kids, but even their insatiable appetite for the berries can’t ensure they all get eaten. The excess crop gets open frozen and put in bags in the freezer, to use at a later date, or to make into a smoothie. I’ve also come to notice the amount of fruit which is thrown away at the local greengrocers and supermarket. The supermarkets seem to still insist that once the best before date has expired, so has the fruit, and this it seems is spreading to the greengrocers as customers reject anything with a bruise or blemish. As a result, I’ve started to check out the shops at the end of the day and have picked up loads of fruit which is slightly bruised, but otherwise fine. Especially when it could go in a smoothie anyway. So once washed and prepared it goes in the freezer to be used another day.
The advantage of using frozen fruit in these fruit drinks is that you automatically get an ice cold smoothie. You can also just grab a handful of whatever fruit you’ve saved from the compost bin and quickly whizz up a refreshing and fruity drink. The other essential ingredient for a smoothie is a banana, giving the drink body, but also natural sweetness. The blacker and softer the banana, the better, with the sugars inside better developed the riper it is. The freshness of yoghurt works well with the sweet banana flavour and also compliments the fruit. Ever popular as a breakfast, lunch, after school or evening drink. The smoothie is a great way to use up those old fruit.
You will need (makes enough for 2)
2 or 3 handfuls of frozen berries
200ml natural yoghurt
Peel and roughly chop the banana and add to a blender with the frozen berries and yoghurt. Whizz until totally smooth. Pour into glasses to serve. To make a more substantial smoothie for breakfast, add a small handful of oats to blended mix, before giving it a few seconds more blending. The resulting ‘thickie’ will keep you going well.
This smoothie is really only a rough recipe. It can be adapted to fit whatever fruit you’ve picked up from the grocers or garden.
This post has been submitted to #CookBlogShare.
May is the month when plants spring into life and a trip the allotment always brings something new emerging from the ground. It’s the month when fruit forms and crops start to swell.
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