It is always good to have an excuse to spend time in pretty Childwickbury Village so I am looking forward to the Christmas Market (27-28th November, 10-5, free entry).
Set in the beautiful grounds and stables on Christiane Kubrick’s estate, the market will bring together many of the artists who attend the summer art fair, and you will be able to buy some very unusual gifts. Well-known for her painting, Christiane hosts the Childwickbury Arts Group which includes artists who specialize in ceramics, glass, print-making and jewellery.
But the reason I am writing about Childwickbury this week is that there promises to be some excellent food on sale, with much of it sourced directly from the estate. I spoke this week to Andrea Hill who lives in Childwickbury Village. She will be selling honey, home-made jams, chutneys, boiled sweets, game sauce and damson ketchup. These will be made largely from fruit she has picked from the estate, which means very low food miles, as well as unique products that you cannot buy anywhere else. Any profits she makes will be donated to Grove House.
Andie explained to me that before the Kubrick family lived at Childwickbury, the estate was owned by Jim Joel. He organised the planting of fruit trees in the grounds so any estate workers could pick the fruit for their own use. As a result, there are plum and apple trees all around the estate and in many gardens.
Jim Joel sounds like a fascinating character so bear with me if you already know the history of the estate. Joel was a well-known thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, as well as a very successful businessman. His family made their money through diamond and gold mining in South Africa. He died in 1992.
One Joel legacy is that the estate now has mature plantings of many fruits. The most widespread variety is cherry plum (known also as mirabelle), and there are also apples, damsons, elderberries and blackberries. You will be able to buy a range of jams made from the fruit, including damson and port jam, and I am keen to try Andie’s damson ketchup too, which she explained is a brown sauce, so ideal with a cooked breakfast. Andie doesn’t use any additives or extra pectin.
Andie has been experimenting with making boiled sweets with the syrup left over from preserve making, so look out for her boiled elderberry and blackberry sweets; these could be a fairly healthy addition to a Christmas stocking? The recipe below is for Andie’s fabulous ripple ice cream; she does suggest that the recipe will work well with almost any syrup you have left over from preserve making. Red quince syrup would work well too.
You will also be able to buy honey from hives on the estate. Last winter was tough for bees in our local area, and the Childwickbury ones were no exception. Most of the ones Andie cares for did not survive last year’s long wet winter, but this year she has been able to collect 40lb, so there will be jars for sale.
Volunteers from Grove House will be selling home-made cakes, mulled wine, and tea and coffee. Any money that they make will go towards the fantastic Grove House. Kashu will be there serving their legendary hog roast, which along with mulled wine will make an excellent wintery lunch. So make a note in your diary to go along, and support Grove House and our local artists and producers. Hope to see you there!
Delicious with homemade apple pie or on its own scooped into long stem glasses. The syrup is also delicious in Champagne.
50ml Elderberry and blackberry syrup (make it from half fruit to half sugar, heat until jammy, then put through a fine sieve)
300ml/1/2 pint double cream
2 tablespoons cold milk
5 level tablespoons of sifted icing sugar
1. Pour the cream and milk into a well-chilled bowl and beat together until light peaks appear.
2. Stir in the icing sugar.
3. Pour into the plastic container. Put the container into your freezer for about 45 minutes or until cream has started to freeze about 1cm around the edge of the tub.
4. Pour into clean, chilled bowl and break up with a fork. Gently stir until smooth.
5. Return to the container (cleaned) and swirl in the syrup to taste.
6. Freeze for another 2 hours or until the cream is set.