Someone once famously said “life is too short to stuff a mushroom” but is it too short to crystallise a flower? Apparently not because our Speaker, Jill Fade kept us enthralled with her entertaining, instructional talk on this very subject. Jill runs her own cottage industry, selling crystallised flowers on her website. Previously working in London as a television production manager, realising she did not wish to raise her family in London, Jill and her husband relocated to a derelict farmhouse in Devon.Someone had to work the decision was taken that whoever secured the first employment would work, the other to be at home with the children.Jill worked as a Training Officer for Devon County Council. A friend in the T V world at Bristol contacted her to come back to T V, working on a programme “999”. This lasted for ten years when suddenly the work and extensive travelling took its toll and Jill became seriously ill, undertaking major surgery.No more work were the stern words of her doctor, but Jill could not sit at home being idle. This was an era when suddenly up market chefs started to use fresh flowers in their dishes. Jill decided to grow flowers, but not being sure which plants were edible did her research and found crystallised flowers. Jill read the method of how to do it and decided to give it a try. After four months the penny suddenly dropped and Jill had success. Jill warned that there is a definite knack to it, you will get sticky but everyone can crystallise a flower. You need egg white ( very lightly whipped) a paint brush, caster sugar ( not the golden one) and very fresh flowers. These are best picked directly from the garden, do not use flowers from florists or supermarkets as these may have been sprayed.If unsure about any flowers, play it safe and do not use them. Reliable sources of information are the internet and seed wholesalers. Not all edible flowers will crystallise, good ones include violas, honeysuckle, cornflowers, daisies and any herb flowers. Very poisonous are sweet peas, azaleas, buttercups, hellebores, foxgloves and wisteria amongst others.
The method is to take the lightly whipped egg white, with a paintbrush painstakingly brush on to each individual petal, with a spoon shake caster sugar all over the petals, place on greaseproof paper and leave to dry, this can take up to two days.
Place into boxes ready for despatch to customers. Do not keep for more than two weeks, remember raw egg white is one of the ingredients. Jill competently demonstrated this method to us and the results were wonderful. Photographs of finished displays were shown and we realised how many flowers were used on wedding cakes etc. One of Jill’s greatest successes was to have some plain chocolate Easter eggs made and these she decorated with crystallised flowers, an instant sell out as people were reminded that this is how Easter eggs used to be.
Jill was the most entertaining and enthusiastic speaker and she was warmly thanked by Claire Axten.
Our visitors included seven members of Bucklers Mead W I, Sharon, and we were delighted to welcome back Doreen Smith who has been in hospital recently.
Dates to remember: 21 July Quiz at Castlebrook Inn 7.30
10 August Coffee at Coxley Village Hall, a thankyou to everyone who contributed cakes or helped at the Bath and West Show.
10 October Visit to Bucklers Mead W I
The correspondence included a notification that we should have received log in details for My W I Website. ACWW celebrating 40th anniversary appeals have raised £150,000 and reports are available as to how the money has been raised.
Entry forms were available for the forthcoming Flower Show the W I Shield competition is for three cheese scones.
As as experiment, we are holding a meeting in August when the speaker will be Anne Gould, Miniatures in Dolls’ House, competition a miniature object. Consequently there will be no meeting in September, on 13 September there will be an outing to a Rope Making Centre followed by lunch at The Smokery at Hambridge.
The competition for an arrangement in an egg cup was won by Pat Maddaford and unusually we had first second and third prizes in the flower of the month competition, these being Mary Burt with a most unusual dahlia, Joan Carbin with antirrhinum and Trish Cox with sweet peas.
The drama group entertained us with their very special rendition of Cinderella and a varied finger buffet rounded off an extended but interesting evening.