Beautiful boozy blackberries

By Sarah Watson

Blackberries-zoomDue to its mix of tart and sweet, blackberry lends cocktails, from gin and vodka to scotch and bourbon, a good sweet and sour balance as well as rich flavour. Here I’ve gathered some of the tastiest cocktail recipes from around the web, using blackberries.

Some of these cocktails use a delicious French-style blackberry liqueur, which can be easily be made at home: Infuse around 250g blackberries with 70cl vodka and 100g sugar for around three months (add some citrus zest if you fancy) shaking occasionally, then strain through a fine sieve, or muslin. You can then filter again if you want a clear liqueur – coffee filters do the job. Add more sugar to taste if required, shake regularly again until the sugar has dissolved, then decant into a sterilised bottle and seal. Your liquor will benefit from maturing for a few more months – if you can wait that long!

October is the tail end of the blackberry season,  but don’t worry if the berries are getting a bit seedy or aren’t very sweet, because sugar is added to the infusion and it’s filtered before drinking. Although if the berries are over-ripe and soggy, mouldy, tasteless, or just don’t taste nice, they’re past it! Alternatively you may have some stashed in the freezer.

The Hedgerow Sling from Absolut Drinks is a sour style of cocktail using sloe and lemon juice along with blackberry liqueur.  Their Bramble Mimosa mixes floral and rich berry flavours in a twist on the Kir Royale. Champagne (or you could use sparkling wine) tops up Chambord black raspberry liqueur, blackberry liqueur and elderflower cordial.

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This Blackberry Bourbon Smash (above) from The Little Epicurean muddles fresh blackberries with mint leaves, agave, lemon and ginger ale to make a long bourbon cocktail.

 

Blackberry Gin Smash is a  fruity alternative to traditional G&T, adding fresh blackberries muddled with lime juice.

A couple of these cocktail recipes use simple (sugar) syrup. Don’t buy it – it’s simple and inexpensive to make at home..here’s how.

Discover more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast foraging & cookery course.  Get wild food and drink tips and updates on courses on Facebook and sign up for my e-newsletter for wild food & drink recipes direct to your inbox (option to unsubscribe at any time).

Elderflower – delicate floral cocktail mixer



 

 

By Sarah Watson

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To make the most of the wild elder tree’s superb summer blooms while the elderflower season’s in full swing, I’ve gathered the coolest cocktail recipes from around the web using elderflower cordial.

Making your own elderflower cordial is simple and inexpensive, I add lime for extra zing – here’s my elderflower cordial recipe.

Elderflower’s refreshing and gentle floral flavour works well with gin and vodka, but also tequila, white rum, sparkling wine, cider and even beer. It marries well with fruit such as raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry, rhubarb, apple, pear and peach as well as citrus flavours.

From UKTV’s Good Food website, this Gin, apple and elderflower cocktail is a long drink over ice with lime, mint and cloudy apple juice.

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This Strawberry mint elderflower and gin cocktail (above) from Caroline Taylor’s blog, All That I’m Eating, is super summery with strawberries, gin and mint leaves, topped up with tonic or soda.

For a refreshing and simple elderflower cocktail, try this elderflower collins  from Absolut, with vodka, soda and lemon juice.

Dreaming of a daiquiri? Try this Elderflower and mint version from UKTV’s Good Food channel, with white rum, freshly squeezed lime juice and mint.

Fancy some fizz? Martha Stewart’s rhubarb elderflower bellini is a sparkling cocktail infused with the tart taste of rhubarb. Or how about this elderflower and lime spritzer  from writer and TV cook, Jo Pratt, with sparkling wine, fresh lime juice and mint leaves.

This Pear and elderflower martini is a vodkatini drink with pear juice from Scottish bartenders, Social and Cocktail.

Last but not least, why not try mixing the exotic La Boheme with elderflower liqueur, vodka, black raspberry liqueur and cranberry?

Discover  more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast forage, cook and eat course.  Get more wild food tips and updates on courses on Facebook and sign up for my e-newsletter for wild food recipes direct to your inbox (option to unsubscribe at any time).

Golden gorse to lift the spirits

By Sarah Watson

gorsePhoto: Gorse in East Sussex by Ian Cunliffe, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gorse has been bringing striking golden-yellow brightness to the landscape since early January. Native common gorse (Ulex europaeus) is widespread on Sussex heaths, roadsides, railways and fields, flowering mainly from January to June. It’s a large, evergreen shrub covered in sharp, needle-like leaves with yellow coconut-perfumed flowers, the scent being more noticeable on sunny days.

Gorse_flower._(8476622380)Photo: Gorse flower by Ian Kirk, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence,
via Wikimedia Commons.

The flowers of this pea family shrub are edible and impart a distinctive coconutty, floral-vanilla flavour to infusions. The petals can be used as a decorative salad garnish, scattered over cakes, or infused in boiling water to make a tea. Or try crystallising petals with beaten egg white and fine sugar and spreading them out to dry in a warm place (this intensifies the coconut flavour), then sprinkling over ice cream. Ideally a gorse ice cream, made by heating the cream or milk of your recipe with a handful of gorse flowers, then cooling and leaving it overnight in the fridge before straining and using it to make the ice cream.

Coconut_lime_cake-gorse2-adj-resizeAbove: my coconut and lime cake with gorse flower rum frosting, topped with fresh gorse petals.

Gorse flowers are also used in the new breed of artisan British gins such as The Botanist, in winemaking, and to flavour whisky and beer. Try John Wright’s River Cottage Handbook recipe for gorse flower white rum, or infuse a handful in vodka for just a couple of days, before straining and adding sugar to taste. I also make a sunny yellow syrup with lime and orange, which is just gently floral flavoured with a slight hint of coconut and can be used in cocktails or as a drizzle.

The flowers provide pollen for insects, especially on warmer winter days. Luckily picking too many is difficult as the bush is well-protected by sharp spines, so gathering them needs to be a slow, careful process – gloves are recommended, although I find it easier to get a feel for picking the blossoms without them, but caution is needed! Take care not to confuse gorse with the poisonous laburnum tree, which is also in the pea family and has bright yellow flowers, however unlike gorse, the flowers hang down in clusters and the leaves are not sharp and needle-like.

Discover  more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast forage, cook and eat course> book here.  Get more wild food tips and updates on courses on Facebook and sign up for my e-newsletter for wild food recipes direct to your inbox (option to unsubscribe at any time).