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News, events and offers from Jekka's Herb Farm.

Jekka's Herb Farm
Winter Newsletter


Welcome to the Winter Newsletter

In this issue:
Stevia
Christmas gift ideas
Recipe for Mirto (Myrtle Gin) 

Nature's seed sowing methods


In the winter months there are many lovely evergreen herbs that we can use to enhance our meals, rosemary, thyme, sage, myrtle and bay are just a few.  These can transform a soup, pep up a stew and, during the festive season, can be used to enhance the feast and decorate the house.  There are three medicinal herb that are synonymous  with this time of year, these are Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy. All of which not only have herbal medicinal properties but they  are also steeped in the symbolism of the season.  Take Mistletoe, great for kissing under but, did you know that traditionally the ancient Celts regarded it as the symbol of the triumph of love over death.   Holly has many stories written about it and  in the language of flowers the Holly is the symbol of providence. Ivy is wrapped in myth and magic, in ancient times the evergreen Ivy symbolised eternal life, loyalty and devotion.   So may I take this opportunity, from all of us at Jekka's Herb Farm, to wish you all a warm, safe, healthy festive season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. 

Stevia

Stevia rebaudiana is going to be the herb of 2012.  I find it ironic that it was originally used by the Aztecs over 2000 years ago and will now become the life savior of the over indulgent developed countries.  This natural sugar herb transforms cordials and drinks, jellies and fruit dishes with it's zero calories.  We have grown it at Jekka's Herb Farm for over a decade, it is not the easiest plant to grow but using the herb fresh really is miraculous.  You will find tips and information on cultivation in Jekka's Complete Herb Book.   If you are looking for recipes and tips on how to use it you will find all the information you need in Jekka's Herb Cook book

'Gifts for all reasons'

We have a range of gift collections for any occasion. They also make an inspiring choice of Christmas gift for anyone and everyone who loves herbs, gardening and cooking. Unique, useful and thoughtful gifts that will inspire and delight. There are gifts to suit every budget, and ordering is simple, so start enjoying your Christmas shopping at our online shop.

Our Deluxe Hamper, includes: A signed copy of Jekka's Herb Cookbook, Jekka's Culinary Seed Collection, Jekka's designer Tea Towel and a 50g bag of Jekka's Bright & Breezy Brew Herbal Tea.

Recipe for Mirto 

The very first time I drank this liqueur was in Sardinia where the hostess, Rosa, served it direct from the freezer.  So I highly recommend keeping the bottle in the freezer so that it is ice cold when you serve it.  This liqueur is not only great to drink it is also lovely to use poured over ice cream or to flavour sauces especially with venison or pheasant. 

Mirto Liqueur 
1Kg fresh myrtle berries, washed and dried
1 Lt of vodka ideally 95% proof but I do make it with 45% proof which saves the pennies and tastes just as good.
750gm granulated sugar plus 75ml of water.
 Place the washed berries into a large bowl and, using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, lightly mash the berries, pour over the vodka, cover with cling film or a lid .  Place the covered bowl in a warm room away from pets.
After 4 weeks the alcohol will have turned a dark bluish black, strain the alcohol through either of the following; a jelly bag, a large piece of muslin or a coffee filter, if you are using the latter you will need to keep changing the filters because they will clog up with the berries.
In a large pan heat the water, add the sugar, stir well, put to one side and stir from time to time until the sugar has melted.  Once cold ( this is important as you do not want to lose the alcohol content by adding the infused myrtle alcohol to hot water)  and the sugary water is clear when stirred,  pour in the filtered infused alcohol.  Stir well, then bottle.   I like to use small bottle as these will,  in a month  or so time, make ideal  presents.  Once bottled, try not to sample the Mirto for a further 4 – 6 weeks, longer if possible, as the flavour improves with age. 

Nature's seed sowing methods.

Early winter is very magical in the garden, for this is when nature sheds many seeds so that they can germinate over the winter months producing strong healthy plants in the spring. This photograph shows the Caper, Capparis spinosa. By sowing the seeds fresh under protection you will have caper plants next year and the year after your own fresh capers. There are many other seeds which benefit from being sown now especially our native UK herbs which require the frost to germinate; for example  Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata ,  Sweet Violet, Viola odorata and  Angelica, Angelica archangelica. 
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