Posts Tagged rhubarb

Making Rhubarb Gin

DSC01378For this recipe you will need:

a bottle of cheap gin 700ml

400g of chopped rhubarb

400g of castor or granulated sugar

juice of one lemon

To make the rhubarb gin, first pick or buy enough rhubarb. Then chop the leaves off and discard, and chop the stems into inch long pieces and wash.

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Add to a clean glass jar or demijohn, together with 400g of sugar.

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Then add the gin

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and finally the lemon juice.

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Give it all a big swish round

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Keep in a cool and dark place for 2 weeks

Then strain the rhubarb off and you are left with lovely pink rhubarb gin.

Already in just an hour the gin has started to turn pink.

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You can then make a G&T in the normal way or add a little rhubarb gin to champagne for some extra fizz.  Enjoy!!

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Planting our potatoes with the “no dig” method and progress in the garden

We had read about it, so we thought we would give it a try – “No dig” gardening. What is that you ask?  Well the idea is that you cover the ground around the plants you want and it stops the weeds coming up, therefore you don’t need to dig them out.  We understand it can take a couple of years for the weeds to completely stop coming up but we thought we would give it a go.

So we started with the potatoes.  We laid cardboard across the ground and Neil made holes through the cardboard into the earth.

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I followed up by planting a potato into each hole and then we covered with the cardboard.  The idea being that each potato will grow through the hole in the cardboard, but the weeds won’t be able to.

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We then did the same with the onions.  We got the cardboard from our local convenience shop.  He would only put the packaging into recycling so we are recycling a different way.

I took the opportunity to have a look round the garden at what else is growing.  The rhubarb is coming along fantastically and we will be able to pick from it soon.

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Where I had pulled up all the dead strawberry leaves and exposed the new little plants coming up, they are doing well, still small but growing new leaves.

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I had created a border of daffs, narcissus and primroses around one of the lawns.  These have finally come into full bloom and are looking lovely now.

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It’s nice to have a dry day to get some jobs done in the garden.  Saturday was glorious with sunshine but today it is more cloudy, but still a good working day.

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Sowing peas and beans

In spite of the unseasonably cold weather we have been dodging the rain and working out in the veggie patch.  Last week I sowed peas into one half of one of our vegetable beds.  As peas are susceptible to being attacked by mice and rabbits, Neil made a mesh frame to sit on top of the raised bed to protect the emerging seedlings from being munched.

mesh frame to protect seedlings

In the next bed we dug in plenty of rotting horse manure to make a good compost for our beans.  We then put up our bean poles into 3 lines and I sowed runner beans and climbing french beans, 2 to each pole.  It was quite a sturdy structure by the time we had finished, as we do get the winds up here on the hill.

Bean canes

 We have already started picking our asparagus, just 4 spears so far, so not enough for a meal yet, but slowly slowly.  This is our first year that we have been able to harvest any aspargus, so I am quite excited about it.  The rhubarb is going great guns, and we are still eating purple sprouting broccoli.  I love eating straight from the garden, so fresh and so full of vitamins!!

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Seeding and planting in our Spring garden

 After the heatwave in March it has been cold this April with typical April showers and sunny spells.  So our gardening has had to be done dodging the showers.  Firstly we have 4 large areas that we have laid with lawn seed.  We bought a 25 kg bag of lawn seed off Ebay and mixed this with compost so that the seed had something to stick to and then sowed it by hand, all before it rained.

large area laid to lawn seed

You can see Tia, one of our cats, got in on the picture, and also you can see the border I created in the Autumn with daffodil bulbs and a stone edging, all stones taken out of the garden. Next it was time to get the potatoes in.  Our first earlies went in a few weeks ago and are already coming up.

First early potatoes already coming up

Our second earlies and maincrop had been left to chit and were now ready for planting. Here are the maincrop Anya potatoes that have chitted.

  Chitted Anya potatoes ready for plantingWe use newspaper as poor man’s weed suppressant sheet.  It keeps the weeds at bay for a while and then eventually disintigrates, so is quite handy to use. So then I got to planting out the potatoes.

planting out the potatoes

We also planted a bed of onion sets, and then under cloches I planted spinach, raddish, beetroot and salad leaves seeds.

You can also see the shrouds that are  round each of our garlic plants.  This is to protect them from the rabbits that ate the lot last year.  Elsewhere in the garden the purple sprouting broccoli is plentiful and we have been eating it with every other meal.

We ate the first of the seaon’s rhubarb on Tuesday this week.  I have 6 plants so can pull a couple of stems from each plant so not to weaken them by pulling too much from any one plant.

Healthy rhubarb plant April 2012

I made a lovely rhubarb crumble which went down well with our friend who was staying with us at the time. With the current cold temperatures and frequent showers it is not conducive to working much in the garden.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow!! visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Amazing Cauliflowers

Look what’s growing in the vegetable patch! Amazing cauliflowers!! Well they may seem pretty ordinary to you, but to me they are amazing because this is the first time I have grown them.  The little plants were dug in last Autumn and immediately grew big green leaves, but for months there has been no sign of anything else.  Then today I went and had a look at them, and I have 3 cauliflowers.  Not much I know but I only had 6 plants to start with, so maybe the other 3 are late developers?

My first cauliflower!!

I shall wait another week for the largest one to grow a bit bigger and then next Sunday with our roast we shall sample our first home grown cauliflower.

Also down the veggie patch is the first emerging rhubarb.  I love the way the buds push their way through the soil and then unfurl their leaves revealing their pinky red stems.

Rhubarb emerging

Having cleared the strawberry bed of all the dead foliage and runners, the new little plants are developing their first leaves, hopefully heralding a bumper crop of delicious red berries in June.  Can’t wait!!

The strawberry bed

The next job is to plant the first early potatoes.  I love this time of year, it’s so exciting planning our crops for the coming season.

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Making Rhubarb Jam, Mrs Beeton’s way

Our rhubarb plants are strong and healthy and we have been picking rhubarb since April this year.  The stems are still plentiful and the beauty of having several plants is that you only pick a couple of stems from each plant, that leaves the plant strong to grow more stems.Plentiful Rhubarb 2011

So I decided as we had so much rhubarb, and I was running out of freezer space, to make some into jam.  But I’ve never done it before with rhubarb, so I asked my neighbour if she’d ever made rhubarb jam as I wanted to get the proportions to sugar right, which depends on whether the fruit is high or low in pectin.

Anyway, Val searches through her books and comes out with Mrs Beetons Cookery Book, 1923 edition.

Mrs Beeton's cookery book 1923 edition

I just love the bit on rhubarb jam, where it says “place the pan by the side of the fire, and let the contents come slowly to boiling point”.  I suppose this was in the days before cookers.

Text from Mrs Beetons cookery book 1923

Anyway, I made my jam using equal amounts of fruit to jam sugar, the same way I had previously made the gooseberry jam.  I made one batch adding the ginger powder – the taste is quite subtle – and one batch without.  Both were delicious and set firm, so a success I think.  I hope our guests at the B&B will enjoy this with their breakfasts.

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