Adventures in Food – Nasturtium Jelly

Nasturtiums are one of my favourite flowers to grow. They’re easy, don’t need much fussing over, they’re very attractive, make good companion plants and you can eat almost every part of them – what’s not to like?

Nasturtiums

Nasturtium leaves can be used in salads or just eaten while mooching around the allotment – they have quite a peppery flavour. The seed pods can be pickled and used like olives or capers, apparently (not tried that yet!) But what I’m concentrating on today is the petals, which can be used to make a rather nice jelly.

The difference between a jam and a jelly is that a jam has all the seedy bits left in and is opaque, while a jelly is clear and translucent, or at least it should be. The red currant “jelly” we tried to make was quite definitely jam!

 

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Crappy phone pic, but jelly is on the left and jam is on the right.

 

 

 

So, jelly made from nasturtium petals – not as hard to make as you’d think! Most of the recipes I’ve found online for nasturtium jelly are from the US and use pectin, but I used jam sugar and it seemed to work out fine, so if you don’t have ready access to pectin then jam sugar is your friend.

You will need

3-4 sterilised jars and lids

Muslin or cheesecloth or similar

Heat proof jar for stewing

Saucepan

 

2 cups of nasturtium petals (just the petals, not the stamens in the middle of the flower)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

3 1/2 cups of jam sugar

 

To sterilise the jars, place them (and their lids!) in a large saucepan of cold water and bring it to the boil. Put the lid on and let it boil for 15 minutes. Be careful when handling hot jars, and remember the rule of preserving – hot things go in hot jars and cold things go in cold jars.

Pick two cups of nasturtium petals – nice fresh ones, not the ones that are beginning to go over. Rinse them in cold water to get rid of any bugs. Put the petals in a heatproof jar. Boil two cups of water, pour them over your nasturtium petals and leave to settle and cool overnight.

What you will have in the morning is kind of a nasturtium tea – the colour will vary accord to the colour of your petals. Strain this tea through a muslin or light cloth and you should be left with a translucent coloured liquid with no bits in it – it’s really interesting to see the way the colour leaches out of the petals and into the tea!

Place your tea in a saucepan and add two tablespoons of lemon juice, and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Add 3 1/2 cups of jam sugar and return to the boil. Allow to boil for 5 more minutes. I gave it the occasional stir, I don’t know if you really need to but it didn’t hurt.

You might see a kind of foam developing on the surface of the liquid. I think this is something to do with the pectin reacting. It’s nothing to worry about, just skim off any foam that develops (when I tried it there wasn’t much, but there may be more if you’re using pectin rather than jam sugar, so that’s something to be aware of).

Pour the jelly into the sterilised jam jars – be careful because the jars are HOT! Make sure you wipe any spilled jelly off the rims of the jars before tightening the lids. Can be stored in a cupboard on in the fridge after opening – apparently it’s nice with cheese and crackers but we has it on home-made spelt bread and it was very tasty, so it can go sweet or savory. It’s up to you!

 

Plastic Free July

oranges-2100108_1920This month a campaign is running to raise awareness of plastic pollution and in particular the scourge that is single-use plastic. We must all be aware of the problem by now, so instead of making you miserable by reminding you about the giant floating islands of plastic in the Pacific or the huge number of disposable coffee cups thrown away in the UK, in this post I’ll focus on positive steps you can take to reduce your plastic footprint, and that go beyond the obvious ‘avoid bottled water and disposable spoon’ advice.

We in the Meddwl Coed house have tried a number of new things over the past weeks and months to help us move away from a dependency on supermarket shopping, as part of our One Planet preparations. (To achieve a One Planet footprint, which we must do to be allowed to build on whatever plot of land we eventually buy, we have to grow our own food and process our own waste.) Here are some things that have worked well:

  1. Buy fruit and veg that comes in its own skin.
  2. Re-use your old fruit bags. If you forget, we found that Morrison’s in Patchway were more than happy to find some paper bags for us to use – it’s always worth asking! This also works for cheese and meats from the deli counter!
  3. Take tins or tubs to the butchers and ask them to put your meat inside. You might want to take some grease proof paper for them to rest the meat on for weighing.
  4. Get your bathroom essentials from Lush, who have a range of ‘naked’ products. I’ve been trying out their shampoo bar, and been really pleased with the results. I have hard-to-manage curly hair, and went in to this fully expecting a headful of frizz due to the lack of conditioner, but it’s worked beautifully.
  5. For the more adventurous, try cleaning your teeth with bicarbonate of soda and a bamboo toothbrush, or if you’re really after the back-to-nature experience try a tooth twig! I haven’t finished with my old toothbrush yet but will be giving this a go pretty soon and will try to remember to report back.
  6. Get into home baking. We’re lucky to have time at home for this kind of thing, but if you can fit it in at all, making your own biscuits and cake saves on a bundle of packaging.
  7. Find a local milk supplier who sells in glass bottles or will fill re-fillable containers for you. Farmers Weekly has an interactive map you can use to find a supplier – we’ve had delicious raw milk from Dora’s Dairy near Swindon and will be trying out the Old Green Dairy near Bristol as soon as our supplies run out again.

It’s never too late to take action, so if you want to join the Plastic Free July project, you can do that here. If there’s anything you’re really struggling to find, contact us and we’ll see if we can help!

 

Allotment Dairies – July 1st 2017 Picture Post!

The allotment is looking pretty nice at the moment. We brought the onions in and replaced them with some lavender plugs. Chard and courgettes are doing well and we have flowers on the pumpkins

Pumpkins

 

and the nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums

 

The dogs came along to help today. Charley proved adept at digging up hidden bindweed roots and absolutely didn’t slip his harness and try to escape when it was home time, no siree… Charley loves to dig SO MUCH!

Allotment with dogs

 

Lyra lay under the gooseberry bushes and had a kip in her role as allotment supervisor.

All that helping was clearly exhausting

Charley sleepy

 

as you can see

Lyra sleepy