Sunday, 5 July 2009

Fennel update : a feast of red

Some spare hours today saw me decanting the most recent tinctures and vinegars. Ribwort plantain came out it's usual almost black colour, with a warm taste to the slight bitterness. The small amount of yarrow tincture was a clear brown/orange, making me anxious to harvest more once it all starts flowering. I had to protect the few random stalks in the field behind the gate from Chris'enthusiastic strimming last Sunday, but he then went on to leave the ones in my parents garden as he recognised them as a plant I wanted, rather than a weed!

The real surprises were the fennel tincture and the chive vinegar, both of which came out a beautiful red. The fennel tincture had a rose glow to it, while the vinegar was almost scarlet. I didn't think the tincture would go red as it looked a dark green when I first poured the vodka in. It was such a surprise! I hope the liqueur will also have a red tinge, but I shall have to wait another month before that is ready to decant.

The chive vinegar smelled strongly of pickled onions (which is not surprising!), but has almost a sweet flavour to the vinegar. I can see we're going to have fun at the next Vinegar workshop!

At the last one, we made fire cider vinegar and I was thinking of that when I saw some horseradish leaves sticking up above a patch of weeds surrounding some courgette and squash plants. The courguettes are flowering and have set one fruit, which already has had a bite taken out of it. The butternut squash plants don't seem to have grown at all since I planted them, which does not bode well.

I thought I would clear the weeds from them (red dock, chickweed and various others) when I saw some rustling and a huge frog made its way into the safety of the compost bins which are overgrown with potatoes and bindweed. I did apologise for taking away his shelter, but he has lots of other places to hide. I've seen a couple of tiny froglets in the past month, but it's really good to see the adults back again.


Hedgerow Hippy said...

Hi Sarah,

what an amazing colour you got from the Fennel! I so want to try that now. How did your Yarrow tincture smell? I made a wee drop last year and it smelled almost chewing-gummy - not at all what i expected...

linda said...

Beautiful colors. Do you use red wine vinegar for this? I didn't realize that you also taught classes. If only I lived close enough! Also, did you do anything yourself to encourage the frogs?

Sarah Head said...

Hi Linda - no, the only vinegar I use for all purposes is cider vinegar, apart from one lone bottle of malt vinegar I used with some mint a couple of years ago. I don't do anything to encourage the frogs, they were in the garden when we bought the house in 1981. We don;t see them very often - it's usually when I'm weeding or move something they're hiding under. There is a pond in the school grounds several hundred yards away and I think they spawn there then come back to us each summer.

linda said...

Thanks for answering Sarah.
I am glad to hear that you use cider vinegar only. I see recipes that call for white wine vinegar which is very expensive here (and comes in very small bottles). Cider vinegar is doable.