Sunday, 1 June 2008
According to all our recipe books, it is essential to pick elderflowers in full sun so that the flowers are fully open. It was also essential to pick them this weekend, as the next few weekends are booked up, so on Saturday afternoon off we set with a big supermarket shopping bag (re-useable I hasten to add) to find elder trees.
After a few miles of elder desert, the first tree we found was at the side of a busy road. We stopped the car, put on the hazard lights and picked frantically, with one eye on the traffic. One or two people seemed a litle impatient with us for some reason.
After that, things improved and we managed to find quite a few trees, but in safer locations and on foot, although many of them seemed to be the other side of a ditch behind ranks of nettles. "How many elderflowers do you think we need?" I asked. The recipe said 3 pints of elderflowers for one gallon of wine, so we decided that we would fill the bag and then see how many we had got.
After two hours of pleasant wandering down country roads and lanes, the bag was full and we made our way home. Now we had to process them by removing all the stalks.
Here are the hardworking stalk removers.
The bag seemed bottomless, and it took three people an hour to remove all the stalks. Here's the preserving pan full of flowers(6 pints).
I added boiling water to each container and left the flowers to steep for two days. I do love the smell of elderflowers, which is lucky as it permeates the entire house at the moment.
The next stage is to put the liquid into demijohns, add sugar and set it to fermenting. We think we have enough for four gallons (hic), and the wine is only about 12 months away, hooray!
As Kino was here for the weekend, I was able to give her back her skirt which I had fixed. This skirt was bought a few years ago and worn once at a summer garden party. Kino spilled some water (or more probably wine) over where she was sitting and had the happy thought of placing some black sugar paper over it to sit on in order to protect the skirt. Hmmm, well apparently the dye in sugar paper is not fast. Not until it's bonded with fabric, anyway.
After some fruitless attempts to turn the hideous black stain into a feature by painting it with silk paints, she sent the skirt to me to see if I could remove the stain. I tried a number of treatments but was unable to do anything but reduce it a bit. I concluded I would have to remove the section of skirt with the stain and replace it, at which point it went into the Too Difficult pile and has remained there ever since.
Until....I visited the Dylon stand at this year's Ideal Homes Exhibition. For reasons I won't go into I was looking for technology to remove dye, and found the Pre Dye treatment. This apparently removes all dye from almost everything. Light bulb! I could remove all the lovely hot pink dye AND the stain from the skirt and then re-dye it hot pink. I asked Kino for permission to try this radical treatment and she agreed.
Here's the skirt after all the dye had been removed.
A sort of dirty beige remained -and a small green mark where the black stain had been. Then I re-dyed it using a lovely flamingo pink. It came out perfectly, and here it is being worn by Kino, who was very pleased to have it back again after three years. It looks really great!
Oh, and the small green mark? That was the silk paint!