Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Bread and wine

I try, whenever possible, to make my own food.  Not only is it cheaper and healthier than pre-made processed food, I also have the advantage of knowing exactly what's gone into it.

Today has been a day of baking bread and making wine, well ok, homemade cordial actually!

A double batch of basic white bread dough, split between a basic loaf tin, a tiny mini loaf tin and around eight bread rolls/baps.  I recently discovered a tip to keeping the crusts of the bread a bit softer.  Steam!

I'm probably the last person on the planet to discover this, but adding a dish of water to the bottom of the oven worked, and the crusts stayed nice and soft.

While I was waiting for the dough to rise, I also brewed up a batch of homemade cordial.  I'm not a fan of mass-produced sugary drinks, and I refuse to buy the sugar-free ones as they're stuffed full of aspartame, which as a lot of readers will know, has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including cancer.

It's easy enough to make your own syrup or squash drink which can then be served diluted with water.  My son is particularly fond of cranberry juice, but the shop-bought ones contain a lot of added sugar to take away the tartness.  To make mine, I usually throw my fresh cranberries into a saucepan with a pint or so of water and another, sweeter fruit.  In this instance it was blueberries, as the market I'd visited earlier in the day had just reduced them to 2 packs for £1.

Simmer the fruit gently, until all the cranberries have popped.  Strain the fruit through a jelly bag or muslin cloth, and return the liquid to the pan.  If you like, the contents of the jelly bag can be used to make a fruit pie so as not to waste it. Alternatively it can go on the compost heap.

You'll need to add some sugar to the juice in order to reduce it down to a syrup.  Once the juice has simmered down so it's syrup-like, remove from the heat and pour it into a sterilised bottle.  I use an old screw-top wine bottle.  When the bottle's cool enough, put it in the fridge and dilute it to taste as you would any other cordial.

I've actually no idea how long a shelf-life this would have as it's never around long enough to go off!

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