Sue has been getting saucy. At the back, from left to right, we have Pontack Sauce, Sweet Chilli Sauce and home-made Brown Sauce. At the front is Spiced Plum and Port Jam, a revelation in taste!
I was chopping down an elder bush, which has been somewhat smothering a fig sapling, and it seemed a shame to let the bountiful bunches of deep purple berries go to waste. So they appeared in a basket on the kitchen bench.
Sue dug out a recipe for Pontack Sauce. I must admit to never having heard of this before. I've certainly never seen it on the shelf in Tesco. It is in fact a traditional English spicy elderberry sauce, served with duck, venison or game. It can also be used added into stews and supposedly gives them a wonderfully rich flavour. It was, however, invented by a Frenchman, Francois-Auguste de Pontac (1636-1694). In 1666 he came to London and opened what was to become a trendy society tavern frequented by the likes of Danuel Defoe and Swift.
Sue used Hugh F-W's recipe, but you can find plenty of recipes on the net. The kitchen filled with deliciously spicy and rich aromas as the sauce was boiling down. I would tell you that the sauce tasted delicious, but it needs to store for at least two months to develop its full taste. Apparently it will last for years and just keep getting better and better. A bit like Sue!
Not such a traditional recipe up next. We have plenty of chillis from the polytunnel this year, so Sue decided to turn some of them into chilli sauce. As the chillis, chopped onions, vinegar and sugar boiled up, this did not look too promising, though the vapours it was giving off certainly had a punch to them! However, once it was whisked up it began to look like the real deal and it tasted, well, like sweet chilli sauce. But there's something special when you make it yourself using ingredients you've grown.
Third up, and definitely available in Tesco, came brown sauce. I remember when, to enjoy brown sauce, you had to tip up the thick glass bottle and tap, tap, tap the bottom until out came a dollop of rich, spicy sauce. But something has happened to brown sauce. It now comes in an upside down squeezy plastic bottle from which squirts a slightly runny brown liquid. You would certainly be hard pushed to detect the main ingredients.
So Sue started off with a pile of apples and plums, malt vinegar, Worcester sauce and a handful of spices. The cauldron bubbled and spat and the kitchen filled with the smell of good old-fashioned brown sauce. That night I had sausages (our own) liberally dolloped with brown sauce. Perfect! And you know what, I had to tap, tap, tap the bottom of the bottle to get it out.
Lastly on Sue's list of alchemy came her Spicy Plum and Port Jam. All I can say is wonderful smell, wonderful colour, amazing taste. A wine connoisseur would really go to town on this one, for it has layer upon layer of tastes, ending with a rich, exotic hint of dates. Certainly one to make again.