The roses in the garden are reaching the end of flowering with more dead heads than flowers and green rosehips forming. They’ve lasted well this year, but along with most of the flowers in the garden, they’re past their best for this summer.
Each year there’s a bit of a battle between Beth and I to see who can pick the roses first.
I use a few petals to make Rose Petal Jam, flavour milk jellies and syllabubs or to make a pink hued lemon squash . This year, my favourite use for rose petals has been in a Turkish Delight Posset, so called only because I associate rose flavour with Turkish Delight. Possets are incredibly easy to make and delicious to eat though being little more than cream and sugar aren’t an everyday pudding. Unfortunately.
Meanwhile, Beth picks buckets of rose petals for her Rose Gin. If you follow Slamseys on Instagram, you may have noticed we have regular gin tastings when we try cocktails, taste new flavours or re-evaluate the existing range. Last week, we sampled the first 2016 batches of Rose Gin and Elderflower Gin, concluding that while equal measures of Rose Gin and Elderflower Gin, shaken with ice and a good squeeze of lime juice makes a delightfully floral drink, Elderflower Delight is hard to beat on a sunny evening.
As the garden tips from midsummer abundance to straggly plants and seedheads, we wait for the wheat and barley to ripen on the farm. Every day, the weather forecast is listened to on the radio, watched on television and then checked on the internet in the hope that one of them will predict dry sunny days. Ears of wheat are rubbed between hands, the chaff blown away from cupped palms and the grains bitten to see if they’ve hardened. The harvest contractors are consulted to check where we are on their schedule and anticipation builds that harvest might soon start. Maybe just a few days to wait. Then a night of rain sets everything back and the routine starts again.
Yesterday, Bill took the moisture meter down from the shelf, which is always a sign that harvest is very imminent and after testing some barley, declared it should be ready at the beginning of next week. However, the only way into these fields is through an old farmyard that the owner has developed into a range of smart offices and negotiating first an enormous combine through the tightly packed car park and then a succession of tractors and trailers is rather tricky. As a consequence, these fields are only harvested at the weekend, when the car park is deserted, and so Bill has to decide whether to harvest on Sunday when the barley may not be quite ready or wait until the following weekend, when yield and quality may have fallen or the contractor may not be available or it might rain.
Oh, sod it. Pass the gin.
Turkish Delight Posset
This is a rich dessert that will serve four, though I often put it into shot glasses accompanied by a shortbread type biscuit, in which case it will easily stretch to six.
300 ml double cream
50g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Elderflower Gin*
Snip the rose petals from the flowers leaving behind the tough base of each petal. I use one or two roses depending on their size and how scented they are, so use your own judgement on how subtle you want the taste to be.
Put the cream, sugar and rose petals into a pan, stirring to dissolve the sugar and bring slowly to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes and then remove from the heat. Whisk in the lemon juice and elderflower gin, strain into a jug and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour into small glasses or dishes and chill for at least four hours.
*Replace with Elderflower Cordial for a non-alcoholic version