Thursday, 26 October 2017

Grape Cordial

This year we have been blessed with a bumper harvest of grapes from our vines, and as our house operates as close to zero food waste as possible, it has meant a lot and I mean LOT of preserving.

My husband has started a huge batch of wine, I had already made grape jelly for the winter and we were still being inundated with grapes and the prospect of more ripening by the day. So we opted to make some grape cordial for the children to enjoy in the autumn sunshine and any extra could be frozen for over winter treats.

First we washed our grapes and put them into a large pan, now I didn't use a recipe or weigh my grapes as I had so many but as a general rule with cordials if you use 2 kilograms of grapes add 1 litre of water, approximately half fill the pan in proportion to the grapes. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes using a masher to release all the juice from the grapes.

Leave this to infuse in the juices and cool for a little while then strain the mixture through a jelly bag, cheesecloth or muslin to ensure all pips and grape skins are removed. This will leave you with a dark purple liquid.

At this point it is best for you to taste your mixture to see how much sugar you will need to add. Our grapes are not dessert grapes so they are really quite sharp, usually with cordials I add half the amount of sugar to finished liquid product. This means if your strained liquid is 2 litres you may need to add 1 kilogram of sugar.

Return your grape juice to the pan and heat to dissolve the sugar, it is wise to add the sugar a little at a time so that you can stop when you find it sweet enough for your taste buds, this will also depend on how sweet your grapes are too. Bear in mind this is a cordial so it will appear a little syrupy and the mixture will need to be diluted with water to drink.

Once the sugar has dissolved you can bottle up in your sterilised bottles or decant into freezable bottles to store.

We have actually made three large batches of this cordial now, and stored many litres in the freezer for Christmas and the winter season. It can also be diluted with sparkling water or lemonade if you fancy a change from still juice. The children are looking forward to a glass with their dinner over the festive season.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Education update April 2017

The children have been very busy and involved in so many projects that it would be a very long post if I included it all, so we have picked a few of our favourite things to share with you here.

After seeing pictures online of the many sock toys made by other people they made a plan to recycle some old socks into these cat plushies. I'm very proud to say that all the little sewing projects I had given them over the years must have paid off as they pretty much completed this project by themselves.

My eldest daughter's cat brought her a surprise one morning... a pile of frogspawn!!  We have no idea how the cat carried these in but in an attempt to try and save the eggs she brought them round to us. We are pleased to announce that many of the eggs are now wriggly tadpoles, this has made an excellent nature project for my youngest children and given them the chance to study the life cycle of a frog at very close hand.

We have joined the Woodland trust's project to plant more trees, with great success as we already have many little trees coming up from our packet of seeds. This project has coincided with all the seed planting we do every year to grow our vegetables on our allotment, so it has been very busy.

The latest science project the children have been studying is sound, vibration and wavelengths. We have completed many experiments including a tin can telephone, balloon noise and the above experiment to see the sugar move on the cling film by the sound vibration alone.

We have also tried to recreate how the wavelengths looked on an oscilloscope by using a really long piece of cord and moving our hands either fast or slow as seen above, until it looked the same as a given noise.

 My daughter wanted to try some new recipes in the kitchen, sticky toffee squares were one of her new experiments... and very tasty they were too. We have also been eating some of the early harvests from the allotment, so far this has been asparagus and rhubarb.

Another science project has been about light, this led to an art project involving stained glass windows to really brighten up the house. The children's sports club started up again this week for the summer now that the weather is improving which has been keeping us extra busy, along with the building of a new poly tunnel at the allotment with the hope of allowing us to grow extra vegetables.

 Will update very soon with some new projects and updates on the ongoing ones like the tadpoles and baby trees.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Just a quick post to wish you all a belated happy new year, I hope you have got the year off to a good start. We have all been quite poorly with the flu over the Christmas season so were out of action a little bit and everyone has been resting up well to recover, however we are definitely much improved now. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season.

The children have spent their recovering time enjoying all their presents including the many games, lego sets, education sets and craft kits to learn and complete to name a few things. They have also been catching up on some very interesting documentaries and are currently enjoying the royal institute Christmas science lectures.

I was able to make good use of the elderberry syrup made earlier in the year as we all had the flu and it has been lovely to enjoy all the homemade and home grown produce over the Christmas season. This year we made our own pickled onions grown by my husband at the allotment, these tasted absolutely amazing and we will definitely be making them again. Our redcurrant jelly also went down well.

The new year is bringing exciting projects and new challenges, we are expanding our plant collections and planting many more interesting things from seed. For me this means extending my cactus and succulent collection and starting off these new seeds when the weather warms up.

So as you can see we are still here and I hope to be resurrecting this blog more as time goes on, adding more crafts, science and other learning projects with an added taste of our lifestyle too... Happy New Year from our whole family at Lightly Enchanted.