Our District

Christmas recipes from the Garden

With the festive season upon us, as well as her usual tips Hannah shares some of her favourite recipes for Christmas treats from the garden.


Elderflower syrup:

Elder grows like a weed. It is in fact a pest plant in the region, so I can’t advocate planting it, but I can recommend picking the flowers to make drinks because the more flowers are picked, the fewer berries left for birds to spread.

Elderflowers can be dried to make tea over the winter – good for flu apparently – or preserved in this sugary syrup. It’s a great summer non-alcoholic thirst quencher made with soda and a touch of citrus or cucumber, or frozen into a delicate, delicious sorbet.

Elderflowers are best picked when just open.


Here is the River Cottage recipe – note it has 1kg of sugar. You can replace some of that with honey if you prefer, as in this Jamie Oliver recipe.

Elderflowers have a very short season but if you miss them, you can always support local business Kāpiti Kitchen by buying their elderflower cordial.

Summer Pudding:

A great cold pudding to make 2-3 days ahead. Berries and currants are starting to produce now, and if you don’t have enough in your garden a berry picking trip up the coast is always a good day out. (Call Penray’s ahead to check as availability is often limited before Christmas). If you don’t have enough fresh berries, thawed frozen ones work too. Use a mixture- redcurrants add a bit of acidity, raspberries and strawberries for sweetness. Serve with yogurt, cream or icecream.

 Nigella Lawson: “We line a pudding base and shape with, I'm afraid to say, generally pretty awful bread. It's white bread. You line a pudding base, then you lodge the bread against it. You fill it with this mixture of bruised red fruits, a little sugar, maybe a little teeny bit of lemon.

You put a lid on again with some bread. You put mini-weights -- a can of beans, it doesn't matter what -- and you leave it for 3 days. All the juices soak through the bread, making it scarlet. It's like a scarlet sponge. Then you slice it. It slices messily but deliciously, and you have it with cream.”



Christmas Day for me is about getting together with whanau and not stressing about a big cooked meal. This year, weather permitting, we hope to have a picnic. I can’t take credit for these salad recipes but can attest they are addictively delicious, and suit gluten-free and vegetarian family members.


 Early summer in the garden:

  • Keep planting summer vegetables like tomatoes, beans, cucumber, zucchini and pumpkins. Things are still growing fast. Planting another round of zucchini and beans in midsummer will extend your harvest into late autumn.
  • Mulch as you plant, to keep weeds away and stop plant roots from drying out. Lay soak hoses and watering bottles through beds at planting time too – it gets harder later.
  • Fruit trees will drop their young fruit if the roots dry out. This is the crucial time of year to water them for a good crop (If they dry out later in summer, fruits will be smaller and have a more concentrated flavour - but if they dry out now it will reduce the crop.) Water well then mulch deeply around fruit tree roots, keeping mulch away from the trunk itself
  • If you can’t get around all the weeds, slash down those that are going to seed. Slashed annual weeds can be smothered with newspaper/ cardboard and mulch.
  • Make liquid feed by soaking comfrey or seaweed in a bucket of water. Water it on every week or so; you’ll notice a big difference in the health of your plants.
  • Keep making compost – even if you never get around to turning it, it will be ready for autumn plantings.
  • Enjoy the garden! Long evenings and early dawns are made for being outside. A few minutes of planting or watering make great stress relief over the silly season.


Keep planting beans and zucchini every few weeks for an ongoing supply over the whole summer.

Plant out: Tomatoes, cucumber, beans, peas, potatoes, corn, lettuce, silver beet, pumpkin, squash, red onions, leeks (for winter), basil and other herbs.

Sow seeds: Salad greens, carrots, beetroot, radish, zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber, corn, beans, peas, silver beet, sunflowers.