Tag: fraxinus

Ash Cider recipe (Frenette) using green leaves

Ash Cider (aka Frenette) using ash leaves without manna ash

Frenette is a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented ash leaves. Read more about it’s history and the type of ash and leaves to use by clicking here.

Equipment
To make 20 litres. Alcohol content will be around 2% to 5%, averaging 3.5%.
25 litre brewing bucket

Ingredients
200 ash leaves with bitter stalks removed
20 litres of rainwater or soft, de-chlorinated water
25 g roasted chicory or roasted dandelion root
2 g dried hops (optional)
15 g tartaric acid (Cream of Tartar) or 25ml lemon juice
16 g (2 sachets) bakers or brewers yeast. I recommend Vintner’s Harvest Yeast SN9 (Saccharomyces Bayanus) which you can get from most wine making supply shops.
1 kg raw cane sugar

Directions
Put the leaves into a large stockpot, cover with water (about 2 litres), bring to the boil and gently simmer for half an hour. Add the chicory or dandelion root and simmer for a further 15 minutes. (If you’re using hops, add it 5 minutes after the chicory.) Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Take 250ml of the hot infusion off and dissolve the cream of tartar in it.

Filter the leaves off the infusion when cool enough to handle, by pouring the liquid into your brewing bucket through a muslin bag.

Dissolve the sugar in 500ml of hot water, and the yeast in 250ml of warm water (about body temperature 35°C). All these with the tartaric acid solution to the brew bucket and top up to 20 litres with warm water.

Leave it to ferment in a dark room, covered with a folded muslin cloth. Each day, skim off any foam that has formed on the top.  After 10 days check that the liquid level has not fallen too low and if necessary add a little more tepid water. Fermentation will last anywhere from 15 to 60 days depending on the room temperature. The warmer the room, the quicker the frenette will ferment. Once it has stopped bubbling, it has stopped fermenting.

This is more accurate to work out if you have a hydrometer.  When it reaches 1008/1010 after a slow fermentation, rack it off and bottle it. Cork the bottles and leave them on their side for 2 weeks. Do not shake the bottles before serving as there may be a fine yeast deposit.

Best served chilled!

Frenette Recipe: Using ash leaves with manna ash

Frenette from ash leaves with manna ash

Frenette is a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented ash leaves. Read more about it’s history and the type of ash and leaves to use by clicking here.

Equipment
To make 20 litres. Alcohol content will be from 1% – 6%, but on average 3%.
25 litre brewing bucket, oak barrel, glass or earthenware demijohn.

Ingredients
200 manna ash leaves with bitter stalks removed
20 litres of rainwater or soft, de-chlorinated water

Directions
Put the leaves into your brew bucket. Gently heat the water to 40°C and pour over the leaves. Tie a muslin cloth over the end of the bucket to keep the leaves clean but on no account seal it with a plastic lid.

Infuse the leaves in the bucket at a room temperature of 22°C to 24°C or use a brewing heat mat to keep the temperature constant.

After 24 hours remove the cloth, stir up the leaves, and then replace the cloth.

Wait a further 48 hours, then stir again ensuring that all the manna has dissolved.

Leave it to ferment for another 6 days with a least 3 of those days at a temperature of 22°C to 24°C. If the room is cool after you may need to allow up to 10 days to fully ferment.

After fermentation, when it has stopped bubbling, filter the frenette off into sturdy, sterilized bottles (old fashioned ginger pop bottles are ideal) and seal or cork them. Lay them on their side and allow them to mature for at least 10 days more before drinking.

Serve chilled!

Manna of Sicily

Manna of Sicily ~ Tapping the Ash

‘Manna of Sicily’, if you can buy it – extremely hard these days – was traditionally stocked in European pharmacies. It is white crystals, very sweet and comes from tapping ash trees, preferably the Flowering Ash Fraxinus ornus and the Narrow-leaf Ash Fraxinus angustifolia. It is mainly comprised of natural mannose, a fruit sugar with a very low glycaemic load of around 6. This makes it very useful for diabetics as a sweetener.  D-mannose is also used to help people recovering from persistent bladder and urinary tract infection because of its affinity with E. coli. and a wide range of traditional use in medicine has been recorded. It is historically used in the making of frenette, a traditional fermented ash leaf drink.

If you’re very keen you can try to make your own manna by tapping the ash trees in the height of summer. This is a process not dissimilar to birch tapping. In the Mediterranean, this is done from 10th July through until September.

Choose a  hot day. Make a cut in the trunk of the tree. A bitter, bright purple sap should immediately start to flow. On contact with the hot air it will crystallise and form manna.

In Scotland, where we have few hot summer days, pouring it into the fruit leather trays of your dehydrator can achieve a similar result! It can then be flaked and stored in an air-tight container.

Ash Cider ~ Frenette

Ash Cider ~ aka Manna Ash Leaf Frenette

Frenette is a mildly alcoholic drink made from fermented ash leaves. It is an ancient drink, possibly made in Gaul around the time of the Romans, that originates in the North of France and Belgium. Variations on the name include freinette or fresnée frênée. This ‘Forest Champagne’ was still widely made in Normandy villages (also Picardy, Lorraine, Haute-Marne, Provence and Velay) in the 1950s and 1960s but is not found as often these days. The famous French writer Colette was reputed to love and make frenette.

Frenette is bubbly and tastes a little like a type of mild cider. It has a light apple bouquet, the colour of champagne and evokes the lazy days of summer! A great family drink, as the alcohol content is very low, it’s lovely for picnics on hot days. It is easy and quick to make, doesn’t need preservatives or pasteurizing, nor any complicated equipment.

In Scotland, our ash trees comes into leaf by May. Traditionally, for frenette, the leaves are usually picked from late June through to late August. As the summer temperatures rise, the leaves start to get covered in a sticky sweet sap that oozes from the leaves, making them look white and almost translucent. This is caused by infestation by the European Elm Scale Gossyparia spuria. It causes the tree to react by producing a sweet secretion. A related species Gossyparia mannapara infects tamarisk trees and is one possible explanation of the Biblical desert food called ‘manna’.

The dried, crystallised tree sap is often called ‘manna ash’ of ‘Manna of Sicily’ and was often sold in traditional pharmacies. It has many medicinal properties, one of modern interest being that it can be used as a diabetic sweetener as it does not raise glycaemic blood sugar levels. Both the sugar mannose and the alcohol mannitol were originally derived from it. Drinking frenette was reputed to help gout sufferers by lowering the uric acid in their bodies.

In France there are three types of ash. The Common European ash Fraxinus excelsior is the only one common across Northern France and Britain. There is also the Narrow-leafed Ash Fraxinus angustifolia and the Flowering Ash Fraxinus ornus that grow further south. The latter, also called Manna Ash, is the one that produces the highest quantities of manna but it is only native to warmer Mediterranean areas.

If you can’t find leaves with manna from an infested tree, you can use green leaves – pick them away from road verges. In this case you can add ‘Manna of Sicily’, if you can buy it – extremely hard these days –  at a ratio of 250g per 2 kg of leaves. Otherwise you can add raw cane sugar or brown demerara sugar. Click here to try making your own by tapping ash trees.

Once you’ve picked your leaves, sort through them and remove the stalks. You can keep any flowers. Ideally they will then be dried in the shade, reducing the water content and raising the leaf sugars. However, they can be used fresh if you are adding cane sugar.

There are two main ways of making frenette, and which one you choose depends entirely on the manna content of your leaves. Here are two recipes:

Frenette recipe for ash leaves with manna ash
Frenette from ash leaves with green leaves (without manna ash)