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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Oak leaf cordial

When I was making oak leaf wine, I noticed that the syrup I started with was rather tasty. I've been planning to make cordial this year - I did want to make rhubarb, but ours is looking a bit pathetic so I'm leaving it alone - and this seemed like a good place to start.

I picked another basket of leaves - actually slightly more than the first batch, about ten pints unsquashed - and put them in the jamming kettle. I added a couple of kettlefuls of hot water, which wasn't enough to cover the leaves, but I wanted to make this as concentrated as possible. I then boiled and left it to simmer for an hour or so. Actually, I didn't leave it at all, but did other things in the kitchen and poked it from time to time, trying to damage the leaves so more flavour would escape.

At the end of that I fished the leaves out and put them on the compost heap. I tasted a few drops of the liquid at this stage - Eeeeuch! That'd take the enamel of your teeth! I think I have plenty of flavour in there, then.

According to the scale on the jamming kettle I had a little over a litre at this stage, and I added most of a bag of sugar - well, there was 370g left in the packet afterwards, so about 630g, bringing the total volume to about one and a half litres. I diluted some and tasted it - apart from being rather warm, it was pretty good. It reminded me of the bottled 'ice' teas you can buy. Those come with either peach or lemon flavouring. I rather like the one with lemon...

I overcame my reluctance to add any more bought ingredients than absolutely necessary (and any more acid), and added the juice of one small lemon. The result was pretty good, I have to say. I'm not sure whether it will keep. I did think of putting cordial in small plastic bottles in the freezer (and might yet do that) but this is very acidic and has a lot of sugar, both of which should deter mould. I'll take a chance and put it in glass bottles, no freezing.


Oak leaf cordial. One of these days I'll start labelling things.

I'll definitely be making more of this, though I may freeze the next batch rather than gambling the whole lot.

Update 28th May: This doesn't contain enough acid/sugar to store well. When I opened the big bottle today I heard a faint hiss. The flavour wasn't much affected, but the hiss means it has started fermenting. I used this bottle to top up the demijohns of oak leaf wine, which have very active populations of wine yeast right now, so that should overwhelm any unwelcome bugs in there. That should also increase the strength of the wine a fair bit, too. I'll definitely have to freeze any more codial I make, and probably keep it in the fridge once open, too.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this recipe - I don't drink alcohol so it's a lovely novelty to have a foraged drink recipe that I could actually enjoy!

    Is your oak tree a particular type? I know certain types of oak tree are better for collecting acorns from than others and wonder if it's the same with leaves.

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  2. I don't really know, but after a few minutes internet research, I'd be pretty sure it's the Common Oak. They're certainly pretty common round here. And by the way, so much for oak trees being symbolic of England, I've seen far more in Wales than I've ever seen in England!

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  3. These look very impressive! By the way,our elderflower champagne using Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's recipe is excellent again..no need for a demi-john and ready after two weeks. I couldn't believe it would be drinkable the first time we made it. We've also got some elderflower wine on the go, but that is the traditional demi-john style.

    Lovely photo of the baby, by the way, and the shawl looks very pretty!

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  4. Elderflower was my first experiment in wine making, and I was amazed how well it turned out, and how quickly! I'll be making some more this year, just as soon as the flowers are out.

    I've just updated this post with a note on storage.

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