Notes from a Kitchen Garden: Elderberry Foraging and Cooking
It's been a busy month in the Fowey Hall garden, where head chef James Parkinson has been out foraging for elderberries to put into the Elderberry Bakewell that features on the hotel's afternoon tea menu. James has also been busy making his own herb oil, ably assisted by the hotel gardener Ruth, who tends the herb garden.
Elderberries are not grown commercially but the wild fruits are easy to come by in woods. As well as being used for culinary purposes, they are believed to have antioxidant properties and to help to, among other things, boost the immune system and prevent coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis - hence their being a key ingredient in the adults' and kids' supplement Sambucol.
Kids love to help with elderberry recipes, stripping the fruits off their stems with a fork or, better still, shaking them free after freezing them for a couple of hours. Raw elderberries contain a poisonous alkaloid so need washing and cooking thoroughly.
Try James's recipe for Elderberry Bakewell below, or even make elderberry wine with the kids - you can find a recipe here.
Recipe for Fowey Hall Elderberry Bakewell
Will make 4 tarts, or enjoy at breakfast with hot buttered toast
Make jam in advance:
8oz elderberries (no stalks)
6oz preserving sugar
Squeeze of lemon
Knob of butter
Boil in a thick-bottomed pan the berries, sugar and lemon juice. After 10 minutes add a knob of butter (optional). Skim off any impurities on top of the jam and cook until 108°C or until jam sets on a saucer in the fridge.
8oz ground almonds
2oz self-raising flour
3oz unsalted butter
3oz caster sugar
1tsp almond essence
In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter until doubled in size. Slowly whisk in eggs and almond essence and fold in the flour and ground almonds.
In a ready-made sweet 10-inch pastry case or homemade blind-baked pastry case, spoon 4oz of the elderberry jam and the frangipane mixture up to 2/3 of tart case. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for 30-35 minutes at 175°C or until golden-brown.
Serve warm with clotted cream or ice cream.