1. Spiders really like to live on elderberry clusters. But they can be easily removed from your harvest by just throwing them and their sprig right out the window. Of course they'll survive the fall. Plus this way, you may have elders in your garden next year.
2. Maneuvering litres of hot boiled elderberry juice is a tricky activity. If you need to strain it from one massive pot to another container wait until you have a friend around who can offer a hand or yell at you when you start to spill. I did this alone. I am still finding purple drops on many surfaces of my kitchen.
3. It is difficult to know exactly what to do with four litres of elderberry cordial(made by reducing the boiled juice with 2 kilos of sugar and flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg). Possibly pour it on ice cream, use it to poach pears, add a splash to white wine or a glug to mulled wine. Definitely add it to cloudy apple juice. Not only will it make the drink purple, it will make it taste just like pressed apple cider. If you live in a place where this is commonly purchased, then that's wonderful for you. If you live in Scotland, then this is your ticket. This is what my past four autumns have been missing. Probably nice warm as well.
4. Sloes grow on the banks of Loch Lomond, close to campsites!
5. If you buy 4 litres of gin and a bag of sugar on a Tuesday morning when you're off work, the cashier will not bat a single lash. Glasgow is brilliant.
6. Sloes are not the only fruit.After you freeze the sloes overnight and then spend a hour or so pricking them and dropping them into gin and topping everything with about 500 grams of sugar. You may do some internet research that will convince you that you have instead picked plums. Tiny ones that look just like sloes. In fact, sloes are a kind of ancient plum and sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference. You can obsess about this for hours! In the end you can decide that wild plum gin doesn't sound too bad either. Meh.
7. "Sloe" gin changes colour over night! And glass demijohns are so cute.
8. The apple butter recipes that pop up first in a search do not yield anything like the stuff you grew up with. There should not be vinegar, so much sugar or any spices. Just a velvety, sugar assault. The vinegar taste doesn't go away; the sugar makes it jammy. You'll end up with 1.5 jars of disappointment.
9. If you wash out pickled onion jars and boil them for, like a good 15 minutes, and then wash them out again, they will still sort of smell like pickled onion. It imbues the glass. This does not improve the already vinegary and weird apple butter.
11. The Amish/Mennonites should have settled in Glasgow. There's no apple butter and I can't make it right and I wish I could just buy it. Plus *all* of the dolls here have faces.
10. Masterchef: The Professionals makes baked desserts very, very appealing.
11. Tarte Tatin is really hardly any more work at all that an apple crumble (the easiest dessert). Given the amount of butter and sugar involved, this is a devastatingly dangerous realisation.
12. It might not be worth it to slow roast a pineapple with caramel and rum. It's pretty good, but possibly not better than regular pineapple served on ice cream with a bit of rum splashed on top. The debate rages.
13. If you are making a rum caramel for a slow roasted pineapple and after you pour the caramel over the fruit, you scrap the bottom of the pan with a spoon to get the very sticky golden bits, you end up with a rum-flavoured caramel pop, a delicious treat that's possibly better than the end result and that you do not need to advertise to your dining companions. It can be your little secret.
14. Pork and Lamb Shoulders!This has been one of the most valuable lessons I have learned this year. Tasty, tasty shoulder. Meat that loves you right back. The lamb can be thrown in a pot with an inexact amount of garlic, olive oil and rosemary. While it should feed you for days, it will be so delicious, you'll just kind of gorge yourself and there will be barely enough left for a snack. It is therefore another dangerous realisation. For the pork, you can make a spicy rub and slow cook it for three hours or so with a bit of water. You can then eat it in fajitas, throw it into pea soup, or make a vegetable gravy sauce, add the leftover meat as well as some sausages (just to feed your impromptu guests). Serve it on mashed potatoes with a side of cabbage with bacon. You will then not care that the days are alarmingly short and your winter coat is starting to seem like a sensible option. Whatever. Pigs and Lambs have shoulders. And you can eat them.