European Peasant Cookery

(Grub Street, 2007)

On European Peasant Cookery:

"This book is a treasure; a work shining with honest, scholarship, joy and workaday good sense. It may well come to be seen, like the first appearance of Elizabeth David's Mediterranean Cooking, as a blessed landmark in our culinary tides."  Sybille Bedford, The Field.

"Far and away the most interesting book published... for a decade. The smell of no-nonsense good food envelops every page. Prue Leith, Guardian. The best at describing the cuisine of the necessary... Filled with hard-to-find gems. Worth building a new bookcase for."  Mark Bittman. New York Times (Oct. 1999) - Describing best cookbooks of the century, ref. US ed. pub. as The Old World Kitchen.


Fruit syrup

You'll find these home-made berry-syrups in rural storecupboards all over Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries and those special fruits of the far North, cloudberries, ligonberries, and Artic raspberries are all suitable for the preparation of this staple winter store - absolutely essential to the well-being of those without access to fresh fruit in the frozen landscape of the Arctic winter.

Quantity: 1k fruit yields roughly 1 litre dilutable syrup.

You'll need: 

A roomy pan, a clean linen or muslin cloth, bottles.

The berry-fruit of your choice

500ml water for each 500g of fruit

350-500g sugar for each 500ml of liquid (depending on acidity of fruit)

Pick over the berries and remove any rotten ones. Put the fruit into a large preserving pan and cover with the appropriate quantity of boiling water. Bring to the boil and cook the berries for 10 minutes. Pin or tie the clean cloth onto the legs of an upturned stool and place a bowl beneath to catch the drips. Tip the juice and pulp from the pan into the dip in the cloth. Allow it to drip through as for jelly. Measure the juice back into the saucepan, and add the sugar (more if the juice is tart, less if it is sweet). Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, but do not boil again. Bottle and seal and store in a cool larder. The fruits of your labours will light up the winter.

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