We have been very lucky to find such a variety of fruit growing in our new garden. I love natural dyeing, but even though some fruits stain your hands the colour is fugitive and will fade, so they’re best for eating and drinking.
Rhubarb – yes, I know it isn’t technically a fruit – started the season with its long stems and giant leaves. The stems I lightly poached with sugar to eat with plain soya yoghurt.
Using rhubarb leaves in natural dyeing…
Always on the lookout for plants I can use in natural dyeing, I decided to dry the rhubarb leaves as I’ve used them before as an acid when using the one-pot natural dyeing method. N.B. treat with care as rhubarb leaves are potentially poisonous if eaten. If you are interested Graystone offers natural dyeing workshops.
A couple of hot, sunny days and they would be dry and brittle, then I could scrunch them up and store in a glass jar ready for the next time I wanted to do some natural dyeing. Hmmm… the jackdaws decimated the leaves – I’m not sure whether they were eating them or just picking ants off them, but either way the leaves were unusable. Better luck next time!
A gooseberry bush, partly hidden by an oversized hydrangea offered up some fat juicy gooseberries. We eat some and I ended up freezing most of these for later. Recipe ideas welcome!
Next year we will remember to net the fruit…
Next to the gooseberry we had identified two bushes as redcurrants and with the weather warming up we saw the berries turning from green to blushed with pink, then some started to turn to that translucent shiny red. Next time we looked the redcurrant bushes were just a show of stalks along the leafy stems – the birds beat us to the redcurrants. Next year we’ll have to cover them with netting once the currants start changing colour.
We knew there were raspberry canes against the stone wall at the bottom of the garden, but we only discovered the raspberries when I cleared the stinging nettles that had grown head high around them. The nettles had stopped the birds feasting on the raspberries so we were able to gather a couple of small bowls full. Raspberries are best for eating as, like most berries, they stain your fingers, but the colour fades quickly as it is fugitive.
Having learnt the lesson about covering fruit before it ripens we managed to cover most of the blackcurrant bushes and netted the plum tree. We have been harvesting the bumper crop of blackcurrants over the last couple of weeks. As blackcurrants are an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants and can help strengthen your immune system I’ve been looking for recipes.
I’ve made jam – first time on my own – and bottled some. I’ve made ‘beena (cordial) for diluting with water when it’s hot. The muslin I used to strain the juice turned a beautiful, deep red-purple colour, but after washing in hot soapy water it has faded to a lovely grey, highlighting why blackcurrants are no good for natural dyeing. I also filled two glass kilner jars with blackcurrants to steep in gin, ready to make crème de cassis in 4 months’ time.
What is your favourite blackcurrant recipe?
I still have more blackcurrants to pick and will freeze some, but I’m looking for suggestions for using blackcurrants. What is your favourite recipe?