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Ethics, alchemy, and extracting chocolate with Blue Sky.

We're passionate about sourcing the best ingredients. It makes all the difference between a good and great tasting drink. One of our suppliers is a company called Blue Sky Botanics. You'll find their ingredients in most of our drinks and we've been so impressed by their ethos that we invited Daniel Jones, head of innovation, to chat about what they do. 

Where do you source your raw ingredients from?

We work with local foraging experts as well as directly with farmers & traders all over the world.  We are experts in sourcing authentic botanicals from fully traceable & ethical sources.  Our botanicals are carefully selected to ensure that we source only the very best tasting herbs, spices and fruits.

You’re a bit like alchemists, how do you magically infuse your extracts?

If we go to that much effort sourcing these wonderful botanicals, it is only right that we treat them with the respect they deserve. We don’t apply any heat, all of our infusions are cold. This helps to capture the wonderful delicate flavour profiles, as well as being good for you by extracting all of the ‘good’ molecules.

It’s basically like magic. We infuse a botanical for a set amount of time, press it, filter it and in the end we have created a fantastic natural liquid extract.  All made by hand on our organic farm, nestled in the beautiful British countryside.

How do you come up with new ideas?

We have an amazing team of passionate people (and I’m a trained chef that helps). We look at trends, history, science and flavour pairing, and basically just play until we achieve something amazing.

If we can source it, we can extract it. So that narrows it down to thousands of botanicals – herbs, spices, flowers, fruits – basically anything that is edible from a plant.

We specialise in bespoke blends and our most recent one was inspired by the aromas of a Poire belle Hélène (or Poached Pear if you are not a chef) … Star Anise, Cassia, Vanilla. And when this is married with an apple or pear juice – WOW!

Tell us about some of the ideas you’re currently working on?

We are currently working on a range of ‘shrubs’ – acidulated fruit based drinks with botanicals. With people's palettes changing and wanting less refined sugar in their diets, we look to naturally sweet botanicals and the use of vinegar to enhance...

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Apple and Blackberry Crumble

This crumble is dairy, gluten, and refined sugar-free but just delicious as one you probably had as a kid. Perfect Sunday lunch pudding. It's delicious with vanilla ice cream or coconut yogurt. Serves 4-6 people (and enough for left overs the next morning). Our thanks to Georgia at Clean Geeg who came out with this delicious recipe. You can find more of Georgia's work at cleangeeg.com and on Instagram @cleangeeg.

Ingredients:

  • 180g of porridge oats
  • 200g of ground almonds
  • ½ a vanilla pod
  • ½ cup of maple syrup
  • 3 tbsps of melted coconut oil
  • 2.5 tsp of cinnamon
  • 6 red apples chopped into 1-2cm squares
  • 400g blackberries
  • 2 tsp of Elderbrook Blackcurrant, Blackberry and Mulberry

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. First put the apples, blackberries, 1tsp of cinnamon, the cordial and 1cm of water into a saucepan. Heat on a low flame stirring frequently for 10 minutes. You want the fruit to become soft, with the blackberries mushy and apple pieces just holding their shape.

While the compote is on the heat, combine the oats, ground almonds, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Once the compote is ready pour it into a baking dish or four individual ramekins. Then using a spoon or your hands, place the crumble mixture on top of the compote making sure it is an even layer.

Place in the oven for 25 minutes till crumble is golden and crispy. Serve straight from the oven.

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Better-for-you skincare with Aurelia Probiotic.

We're all about finding ways to make your life a bit healthier. It obviously matters what you put in your body, but also what you put on it. One brand making waves in skincare is Aurelia. Their unique approach of mixing science with free from ingredients has led to over 50 awards in 3 years and they now have over 20 products available. We caught this week up with Claire Vero, Aurelia founder, to find out more about her story. 

What’s the inspiration behind the brand?

When my skin became dry and started to change during my late 20s and early 30s, I decided I needed to make a serious change to my skincare routine. I wanted a brand that was really serious about helping my skin to age well but that had data to back it up, was for all ages and skin types and that would be a complete delight and treat to use on a daily basis. At the time there really wasn’t one brand that stood out and satisfied all these criteria so I decided to make it my mission to create this ideal range. Through my work in pharmaceuticals, I discovered the power of probiotic technology which is the fundamental science behind the brand.

Why is Aurelia different to other skincare brands?

One of the biggest differences between us and other luxury brands out there is that we fuse scientifically-proven age preventative probiotic ingredients with nourishing, natural botanical ingredients all while maintaining a strict free from ingredients policy. Aurelia’s Probiotic Ingredients continuously protect, restore and balance the skin from within. They calm the natural immune triggers in your skin which can be overstimulated by pollution and stress and they reduce the damage these immune triggers cause to collagen, elastin and healthy cells.  Aurelia’s Probiotic Ingredients activate the skin’s natural ability to repair itself and boost the natural process of restoring collagen, elastin and healthy cells to maintain equilibrium for balanced, glowing skin from within.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

We ethically source a lot of our botanical ingredients from Africa, and are accredited with PhytoTrade to ensure a fair trade and sustainable harvest of the ingredients to benefit the communities. I spent three weeks living with a tree forester while in the development stages of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and fell in love with the exotic, rich botanicals like...

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DELIGHT DELIVERED

In the UK, the average day stacks up a little like this.

  • 121 emails,
  • 110 checks of a mobile phone,
  • 55 minutes commuting,
  • 8 hours working,
  • 3½ hours watching TV.

We’re busy. That’s why we deliver Elderbrook to work or home so you have one less thing to think about. And our little bottles are beautifully designed, so you have a little moment of delight each time they arrive.

It’s more than a cordial thing too. We figure a little break from the daily grind without caffeine and biscuits has got to be a good thing. That’s why we’re here to help you be a bit healthier and carve out more time for you to enjoy life away from email, work, and the TV.

Elderbrook, a better-for-you cordial with added delight delivered.

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A BIT BETTER BY THE GLASS

We test low alcohol wines

Like wine? Us too. But what about low alcohol wine? Yes, it might save a few calories and make the morning after a little less painful, but are they any good?

 We invited Elderbrook drinkers, Sarah, Emma and Maxime to try a few lower alcohol bottles to find out. Our guineapigs are not wine professionals; they just enjoy it enough to know their Merlots from their Chardonnays. To make things fun we did an alcohol blind test by hiding the percentages on each bottle label to see if they could rank them from bucks fizz to mildly intoxicating.

 Johannisberg Riesling V Kabinett, Johannishof 2014 (Elderbrook scores on the door 7/10)

Available from the Wine Society, £11.95 for a bottle. 

Basics first, Riesling is a white grape from the Rhine region of Germany. Their wines are sweet and Sarah described this one as ‘very sweet, like honey’. It’s transparent, with wafts of citrus fruit. Take that lemonade. There were general comments on this one being dry and rich but it was ‘too sweet’ for Emma, and Sarah said she wouldn’t want to share a whole bottle. Alcohol wise it came in at a reasonable 8% compared to your average bottle of white around 12%.

 Alaia Txakoli 2013 DO Getariako Txakolina (Elderbrook scores on the door 6/10)

Available from M&S, £10 for a bottle. 

It sounds Greek but this wine is from the Basque region of northern Spain. It’s a vivacious young wine traditionally poured at height into tall glasses. Being British we were a little more conservative, filling our glasses with the bullet proof neck on rim technique. Professional wine critic Olly Smith Sharp has described this wine as “scented and piercing as a diamond drilling to the core of your palate.” But, Emma felt it looked very pale and had little aroma with a sniff of ‘apple and freshly cut grass’. It went particularly well with a slice of nutty Epaisse cheese we had on the side. This wine was on the boozier end of what we tried weighing in at 10.5% on our alcohol scales.

 Gamay, Jacques Depagneux 2013 (Elderbrook scores on the door 7/10)

Available from the Wine Society, a very reasonable £5.50 for a bottle

This French red was our only non-white option. (Red grapes need more time to ripen which adds...

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