Friday, 29 July 2016

Red Currant Jelly

We have a large redcurrant bush in our garden and this year it has given us a bumper crop of berries, over two kilos and still going. So we have been thinking of extra things to make to preserve the berries into the winter.

Looking into the history of redcurrant jelly, I found that it was traditionally used in England as an accompaniment for Sunday roasts and Christmas dinner before the cranberry version was introduced from America and became the norm.

I decided to just make a small batch of redcurrant jelly, mostly to keep for the festive season and my husband has used the remaining berries for a batch of homemade wine, which I have to say smells amazing. The recipe I have used is a very simple one just using an equal amount of berries to sugar, the same as I use for all the jams and jellies I make.

First clean your berries, there is no need to de-stalk them as we will be straining the mixture through a jelly bag later. A sieve and a piece of muslin will do if you do not own a jelly bag. I have used 500 grams of berries and just covered them in the pan with water as you can see above.

Boil the berries for a few minutes until they soften using a masher or back of a spoon to help release the juices. Then allow to cool for a while before straining the mixture through the jelly bag to remove any stalks and pips. Try not to squeeze the jelly bag while it is straining as this may give you a cloudy jelly, some people prefer to leave this over night.

Once you have your strained mixture it should be a beautiful clear jewel colour, you can then measure how much fluid you have to see how much sugar you need to add.

** Remember**  if you have 500 ml of fluid you will need to add 500 grams of sugar ... keep this measurement like for like and you can't really go wrong. ( keep to either both metric or both imperial)

Return your fruit and sugar mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring all the time, to get your setting point, this will probably only take about 5 to 10 minutes. You can check if your jelly has reached a setting point by placing a small drop onto a cold plate, after a couple of minutes this drop will wrinkle when you push your finger into it.

Then simply pour into your sterilised jars and allow to cool.... I will need to add a sticker to mine saying do not open until Christmas dinner or there may not be any left.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Home Education journal July 2016

Just through the other side of the busiest few weeks for birthdays and it feels great to finally be able to sit and breathe for more than a minute. So leaving out the four birthdays and our wedding anniversary, here are some of the other things we have been doing over the last few weeks.

A zoo visit gave us some chilling out time, especially as they had a new attraction in the play park... bouncy pillows. We had to return to this part of the park several times to bounce as it was a huge lure to my young bouncers. Another high point was the pooping bird video! ... A striated Caracara bird of prey was chatting to my son and I thought it looked so cute that I should try to film it to preserve the memory. However as soon as I had started to film, the bird stopped talking and pooped much to the amusement of the children.

Around this time the elderflower had come into bloom, we love elderflower cordial very much and make some every year. Spurred on by a twitter chat we decided to make extra this year and freeze some for the up coming birthday parties as a special treat.

It is very easy to make and very delicious, if you would like to make some you can find our recipe here.

We have been for some wonderful country walks and hikes through our local nature reserve, the children love to document changes in the wildlife and plant life at various locations throughout the year.

It's especially nice to find fields full of daisies and other wildflowers whilst looking for a place to eat your picnic... the butterfly, bee and insect action going on in this field was amazing to see.

The children's interest in science has continued to grow and they have been studying various aspects of geology. Some of their experiments have included making two different types of lava to compare and using sugar cubes to study erosion.

They spent some time plotting volcanoes around the ring of fire in the pacific ocean to give us this giant map amongst other activities.

We were lucky enough to get the chance to buy a couple of boxes of fruit,  plums and peaches, for just 7 pence a punnet, so we jumped at the offer. This meant quickly processing it before it went off ... so we got down to making batches of both peach and plum wine, both types of jam and a few cakes for tea.

It was a very busy few days but not a single fruit was wasted... the above photograph is my upside down plum cake which was the very tasty end of the last punnet of plums. I may share this recipe in the Autumn when the plums are in season. So that covers a few things from our daily lives.... until the next post.