The group’s inaugural meeting will be held on Wednesday 28th July at 7.30pm. Further information and directions to West Heslerton can be found at http://www.purplesage.org.uk/EYHG.htm Do come along if you can – it would be lovely to meet you. Anyone interested in herbs (growing, cooking, medicinal properties, crafts, etc) is very welcome. There is a small charge of £2 per person per meeting.
Some of you might be interested in Heslerton Open Gardens on Sunday 25th July, 2pm – 6pm. Admission (including map) is £3 and refreshments will be available in the West Heslerton Village Hall or in the Dawnay Arms pub (great Sunday roasts!). There will also be stalls selling plants, and yours truly will be there to offer advice on natural remedies.
Do any of you live in East Yorkshire? I’m thinking of setting up an informal and fun group for anyone interested in herbs – that includes growing them, cooking with them, making lotions & potions and anything else that takes your fancy. We’d also have the opportunity to go on herb identification walks during different the seasons. I’d need a minimum of eight members, each paying £2 per meeting to pay for the venue. I envisage meeting every two months initially, increasing to monthly if we get more members. Any additional money raised would be used to pay for guest speakers. The venue would be West Heslerton Village Hall, just off the A64 Leeds to Scarborough road and around 10 miles from Malton, Filey, Pickering and Scarborough. The Hall is available on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and on Sunday afternoons. If you’d like to join, please let me know by emailing me at email@example.com, and state your 1st and 2nd choice of time-slot. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a start in July.
James Wong is back on our tellies on Tuesday March 23rd with a new series of Grow Your Own Drugs – A Year with James Wong. The first of six episodes starts at 8pm on BBC 2. Amazon are offering the book that accompanies the series for £9.99 at the moment, a saving of £7 ! Click here for more details and a taster video. The BBC link to the series is here – if you miss the programme you’ll be able to watch it later on BBC iPlayer. Enjoy!
The Purple Sage Website now has a selection of Fairtrade Gifts to sell. Take a look and support the work of disadvantaged women in Nepal and the UK’s Breast Cancer Campaign. Click here for more information.
I’ve just finished making marmalade from the last of the Seville oranges. Extremely labour-intensive but well worth the effort.
At long last Spring appears to have arrived – snowdrops, aconite, crocuses and daffodils. I hope to bring you some more recipes this year. To get you in the mood, here’s one for elderflower cordial – a few weeks till the elder is in bloom, but at least you’ll know what to do with it when it arrives!
You’ll need 25 heads of elderflowers (rinse them well first), 2kg sugar, 2 litres water and 2 large sliced lemons. Put the sugar, water and lemon in a pan and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool then pour over the elderflowers. Leave to stand in a covered container for 2 days then strain and bottle (seal loosely in case of fermentation – bottles with corks are safest!). Store in a cool, dark place. To drink, dilute with three parts chilled mineral water to one part cordial. Use sparkling water if you prefer for elderflower ‘champagne’.
Elderflowers are marvellous as a prophylactic against hayfever. You can take them as tea or cordial two or three times a day. Excellent for those who suffer from a runny nose and eyes.
1kg mixed hedgerow berries (sloes, rosehips, hawthorn berries, blackberries, elderberries, wild raspberries, rowan berries)
Around 1kg sugar
Jelly bag or muslin cloth
Remove stalks from berries and rinse. Roughly chop apples without removing peel or core. Place all fruit in a pan with 1200 ml water. Heat gently to simmering point and keep at a simmer until fruit is soft and pulpy. Remove from heat.
Pour the contents through a scalded (to sterilise) jelly bag or muslin and leave to drip overnight. Do not squeeze or the jelly will turn cloudy.
Next day measure the juice. For every 600ml allow 450g sugar. Bring the juice slowly to the boil then add sugar just as it starts to boil, stirring until it has dissolved. Then boil rapidly without stirring for 9-10 minutes until setting point is reached (drop a little jelly onto a cold saucer – one that’s been in the fridge – and allow to cool for a minute. It should crinkle when gently pushed with a finger. Alternatively use a preserving thermometer:104.5oC is setting point)
Skim the jelly then pot & seal as quickly as possible. Use within a year
500g (20 ounces) Rosehips
650g (26 ounces) granulated or raw cane sugar
Pick over the rosehips, removing the stalks, then rinse in cold water. Place 800mls (1 and a half pints) of water in a pan and bring to the boil. Mince or chop the rosehips and add them to the pan of boiling water, cover, then bring back to the boil. Take pan off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Pour through a scalded jelly bag or muslin and leave to drip for an hour or so. Set aside the strained juice. Bring another 800mls of water to the boil, add the rosehip pulp again, and repeat the boiling process. Tip the mixture back into the jelly bag but this time allow to drain overnight. Discard the pulp then combine both lots of strained juice in a pan. Add the sugar and heat, stirring until dissolved. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then immediately pour into warmed, sterilised bottles and seal.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything – sorry. It’s a busy time of year. I’ve been harvesting hedgerow berries (haws, sloes, elderberries, rosehips, crabapples) and making jams, jellies, syrups and cordials. Will try to post a few recipes for you soon. I’ve also been collecting conkers. Many Horsechestnut trees in the UK and elsewhere are being attacked by the bacterial ‘bleeding canker’ disease, so I’ve decided to plant as many conkers as I can in an enclosed environment for now. The RHS has more information about this disease.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days taking part in an archaeological excavation at Boltby Scar on the North York Moors. If you want to know more about this, click here. Luckily the weather was perfect – rarely the case at this time of the year in Yorkshire.
I met James Wong yesterday. What a thoroughly nice chap. He’s just finished filming a second series of ‘Grow Your Own Drugs’, and there’s a Christmas Special in the pipeline too. He was performing the Grand Opening ceremony at Proline Botanicals, a manufacturer of herbal medicines in Lincolnshire.
On Saturday 20th June I’ll be in Malton Relish delicatessen in the market place in Malton North Yorkshire. Do drop in for a chat – I’ll be there from 11am until 2pm. This shop sells all sortts of wonderful edible goodies – get some inspiration for Father’s Day!
I spent yesterday morning in my dispensary updating my client notes and gazing out of the window onto the farmyard. A little striped feral cat kept going in and out of one of the sheds, so I went to investigate. Up the stairs into the hayloft, and in one of the grain hoppers was an old sack with four tiny kittens cuddling each other. Mum looks very skinny, but she seems to like canned tuna. Her babies look around four weeks old – too young to be rehomed at the moment – but they’re as feisty as Mum, hissing and spitting at me with gay abandon. Mum was probably born in the wild too as she is obviously completely unused to people. The right thing to do would be to gather them all up when the kittens are weaned and take them off to the vet for neutering, but that’s going to be pricey for five of them. All the local cat shelters are full to bursting, and I already have a former feral cat (Smokey) who decided to adopt me after giving birth to her daughter (Button). So if there’s anyone out there in East Yorkshire who would like to adopt a kitten next month, give me a call. Don’t know their sex yet as they refuse to be handled, but there are two with beautiful mackerel stripes, a shy black one, and a little white one with tortoiseshell splodges. I’ll try to take a photo in a couple of days, once they get more used to me.