Saturday 19 September 2020

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Cork Independent

Bia Sasta

Enjoy autumn’s beautiful bounty

Wednesday, 19th August, 2020 3:08pm

Autumn is knocking at the door, wet and cold weather has us huddled up in waterproof gear and hope for an Indian summer is still lingering in our minds. 

Autumn is also the season of abundance, delighting every kitchen gardener in the country. I have already made jams and crème de cassis from our blackcurrants and the plums are waiting to be turned into chutney and cakes.

My herbs are also in their full beauty and I will preserve them in salt for a very aromatic seasoning before they are wilting back into the ground.

With the change in weather, we also change our eating habits with more substantial meals and hearty stews and soups are replacing the salads and light snacks of summer.

Mr T is walking the fields in search of mushrooms, I am watching the hawthorn and rosehips to get them when they are just right to be turned into syrup to keep us healthy throughout winter. Both have a high content of vitamin C and are known to boost your immune system.

I love autumn – just as much as I love every season – with its beautiful red and yellow colours when walking through woods or the dark blues and greys of the sea when facing the strong winds on our beaches.

Every country celebrates autumn in one form or another and most of them have to do so with food. China has the Harvest Moon Festival, the United States has Thanksgiving and ancient Ireland had the Lughnasadh celebrations.

This year, harvest celebrations in Ireland might not take place everywhere – although the Waterford Harvest Festival is scheduled for 11–13 September with events like the Honey Show and Waste Supper Club in GIY HQ already set in the event calendar.

Each year, I create liquors – leaving fruit immersed in rum or vodka for a year (sugar is added and the jar shaken each day for the first three weeks) and the result is always stunning. Currently, I have blackcurrants steeping away (I added a vanilla pod as well) and the colour is already a bright deep red that sings to me.

I know that it will be even better after a few months – patience really is a virtue here. Other concoctions I’ve made over the years included rhubarb rum, gooseberry liquor and of course sloe gin. Years ago, I used to bottle the liquors and gave them as Christmas gifts… that hasn’t happened in a long time as I discovered my love for liquor and now keep them to myself.

And talking about liquors and gins, Blackwater Distillery (the one with the Barry Tea Gin) have launched a subscription membership. Every two months you can get different gins and liquors with the first box to include Jaffa Cake Gin and limoncello. A Facebook Live session with tasting notes and cocktail ideas is also included.

I am tempted…..and looking at the lovely plums Mr T picked this morning, I wonder how plum gin would taste – I’ll let you know in a few months!

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