Tag Archives: Adelsö

Snow on Adelsö

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By way of contrast, winter is still alive and well in many parts of the world. My aunt has sent me these pictures to remind me of that this morning! 

On Adelsö on Lake Malaren (Sweden) where Barbara lives, there is a landscape of blue skies and white snow. She doesn’t expect to see the grass re-appear till the end of this month.

Barbara was one of the most important people who started me off making my own bread. A few years ago she was staying with us here and we went off on a mission to buy fresh yeast and a mixer and then spent a happy afternoon making bread together. As you may have noticed, a lot of bread has been made since then…

Barbara also makes jams, marmalades and elderflower cordial. She has an ancient orchard of morello and eating cherries from which she makes the best cherry jam in the world and a wonderful cherry pan cake as well as growing tomatoes and other vegetables in the long warm days of a Swedish summer.

She weaves and reads, teaches cookery, is passionate about good food and when it all gets just a bit too much, escapes the winter to New Zealand or Thailand for a winter break.

If you have any questions about Swedish cooking or life in Sweden please ask her and I’m sure she’d love to reply.

Hej Barbara! What is the first flower to bloom in your garden? I’m guessing it’s one of these that you sent me last Spring…

Elderflower Cordial Part 1

Here we are in mid June.  What is in flower down in Zeb’s favourite woods?

The wild garlic has vanished and there are swathes of frothy cow parsley, icecream pink dog roses, sparkly blackberry blooms and the elders are full of ripening heads of fragrant baby stars.

This is the year I finally try to make elderflower cordial. My aunt Barbara, who lives on an island on Lake Mälaren,  Sweden, makes this every year by the gallon and supplies all her neighbours and people who visit the one shop on Adelsö get the opportunity to sample it too!

The elderflowers have heads of little tiny star like florets, they look a bit like stelline, and on a warm summer’s day you can follow that glorious fragrance to the source….

It makes sense to only take a few from each shrub or tree as the elderberries that form later are a valuable source of food for birds in the autumn. We asked our local parkkeeper who maintains these woods which belong to the Council if it was all right and he was happy for us to collect some flowers for our personal use.  We picked about half a bag, approx 25 flower heads,  in the end.

Avoid picking them where spraying has taken place or near a roadside if you can and make sure you can identify them confidently.  These woods are nowhere near farmland  and I am pretty confident they haven’t been sprayed. The books say pick on a warm dry day, and choose flowers which have a mixture of not quite open budlets and open flowers.

I have no idea how the commercial stuff is produced, or where the manufacturers source the huge quantities of elderflowers they must need…. Maybe there are armies of elderflower pickers all over the world stripping the woods bare..

More to come….

Click here for Elderflower Cordial Part 2