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  • Writer's pictureSarah Campbell

Bramble and Wild Mint cordial

Tom (youngest son), texts me from the langoustine boat. Mum, if you're going to the shop can you pick up some sort of nice juice, I need to drink more water...and make it sugar free. I'm thinking yup, uhuh, OK, until I get to the sugar free bit and then I baulk. OH NO, I'm not buying sugar free anything, not never (apart from Extra chewing gum which I buy alot!). I mean it's not as though sugar is good, but in my instinctive, possibly wrong and humble opinion, sugar- free is way worse! I confess, I have a forceful disregard for lots of things synthetic from acrylic to MDF and Aspartame/Sacharin slot right in there. In fact it makes my brain (which is already fuzzy at the best of time), feel like a wet dollop of cotton wool with beasties in it. So, thanks to the time schedule I had strangely organised for myself that morning and which I was even more strangely ahead of, I concluded that I could actualy MAKE some cordial, out of the blast of ripening brambles in the wedding wood.

So I traipse down there with a small bucket and teeter among the sprawling spikes gathering fat black fruits ripening nicely. I walk back via the horse field and pluck a few bunches of bright red Rowan berries, a good number of Bog Mint sprigs and some tufts of Meadow Sweet.

Back to the kitchen table, the brambles are floated in a tub of water and thankfully the old bits of leaves, stems and beasties float to the top and I can scoop 'em out. I rinse a bit more, weigh the berries (1.5 kg) and toss them in the jam pan along with the Rowan and 1.5 litres of water. Turn the heat up and let them boil for about 10 minutes until they become soft and mushy. I put the mint sprigs and meadow sweet into a seperate pan with 200ml of water and a lid, bring them to the boil, turn the heat off and let them sweat while the brambles and rowan become mush.

I pour the bramble and mint mixtures into a tub and place an old, rinsed pillow case in to the empty jam pan, hang it from the handle and leave it for an hour to let the juice seep out. Then I put 1.5 kg of sugar into the juice, boiled rigorously for about 15 minutes minutes, poured it into sterilised bottles and voila, 'twas done. All in about 1 hour, which is probably about the time it would have taken me to get to the shop and back given that there's bound to be a few conversations with fellow islanders along  the way.

Tom, who has always been lured by capitalist tittle tattle sighed with some sort of mildly frustrated resignation when I told him I'd made a sugar filled alternative. However, the latest text from the langoustine boat says Big thumbs up to the juice!

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