After acquiring a copy of Lynda Brown’s The Preserving Book, Jeremy promptly developed a rigorous program of regular DIY preserving workshops, hosted by our very own contender for South Australia’s smallest kitchen. (Despite its size, our kitchen’s generosity of spirit, if not space, seems infinite, with successful cheese-making workshops as well as daily cooking duties completed with cosyness and ease).
With a parade of syrups, cider, champagnes and cordials, the DIY Preserving Autodidactory program has been largely successful, although not always in the direction intended. Adapting one recipe for mint cordial, Jeremy also brought a selection of other herbs (fennel, lemon verbena) to test in the same proportions as the mint. The highlight, even better than the original mint, was fennel: sweet, punchy and ever-fresh.
We used a rough ratio of 50 grams of herb (fennel, mint, lemon verbena or whatever) to 300 grams of sugar, and 400 mL of boiling water.
1. Blend the herbs with the sugar in a food processor, or pound with a mortar and pestle.
2. Transfer into a bowl or saucepan, and pour over boiling water. Stir, cover and allow to infuse until the water is cool (perhaps a couple of hours). At this stage, the fennel looks and smells like a pile of grass clippings. Don’t be dissuaded!
3. Strain the liquid through a sieve and into a saucepan, pressing and squeezing with a spoon to extract all the flavour. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to boil for a couple of minutes.
4. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles, seal and leave to cool. The cordial should keep for about a month if refrigerated.