A glass of rhubarb gin in April sunshine
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
The recent spell of tropical sunshine has caused the garden to change overnight. We went away for two nights and when we came back found the old apple tree had burst back into life full of pale pink blossom and the strawberry plants have doubled in size proudly showing off their bright white flowers.
Inspired by this burst of energy we spent the bank holiday Monday potting up all the baby plants so that they can be moved into the greenhouse, as well as putting some more seeds straight into the ground. In the greenhouse we have a range of herbs including dill, parsley, coriander and basil. Then various tomato plants, courgettes, chillies, peppers, kale and chard. Everything looks pretty happy at the moment but there are still a few hurdles too get over before we can claim success. As out first supper club in May will be dependent on what we will have in the garden we are keeping a daily watch on what's growing - if something doesn't work it might mean a last minute menu change!
Of course the heat isn't always a good thing and so far this year our rhubarb has struggled, having already bolted earlier this month, it is not looking its best. We will keep on watering to see if we can rescue it and continue to make the most of it this year. A friend gave me a rhubarb gin recipe last year and it's well worth a try - you can drink it after about 4 weeks but it will keep longer (it might discolour slightly but is still perfectly palatable!)
I also tried making my own wine gums for the first time. I've seen them on Masterchef and had in restaurants where they have added a little kick to a dessert so have been curious as to how you can make them at home. Anyway turns out its really easy and all you need is one of those silicone moulds to set them in so they can be turned out easily.
Here's my recipe for rhubarb gin wine gums - cheers!
Makes approx 30 depending on size of your moulds
100ml gin (I used plain but think you could use any flavour)
100ml rhubarb syrup
50g caster sugar
2.5 leaves gelatine
First you need to make the rhubarb syrup by chopping 500g rhubarb roughly and put in a pan with a squeeze of lemon (or some ginger, juniper etc) and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil slowly, simmer for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft, then take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then strain the rhubarb through a fine sieve and put the liquid back in the saucepan. Now add 100g caster sugar and heat slowly, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture up to a simmer for about 5 minutes and you will see it starts to thicken - you may need to skim off any foam that it creates.
Once the syrup has thickened take off the heat and strain through a muslin cloth or very fine sieve - ideally you do this overnight without touching the syrup, as like with jam and jelly making, this makes for a very clear syrup. The syrup will keep for about two weeks in a jam jar in the fridge. You can use it to make rhubarb bellinis or pour over ice cream and you can enjoy the poached rhubarb with some yoghurt for breakfast!
For the wine gums lightly grease the silicone moulds with groundnut or similar oil that doesn't have a strong flavour.
Put the gin, syrup and sugar in a pan. Soak the gelatine leaves as per the packet (usually about 5 mins in cold water) and add to the pan then heat everything gently, stirring regularly so the sugar and gelatine dissolve. Try not to the let mixture boil as you start to burn off the alcohol then and that would be a shame! This should take about 5 minutes. Then take off the heat and allow to cool a little before pouring into the silicone moulds.
Put in the fridge and allow to set for about 2 hours, then pop them out and enjoy!