Homemade Pimms

Nothing brings in summer like a cool refreshing glass of Pimms. This homemade version is delicious and great fun to have a bash at.

Homemade Pimms

Last week I had a helluva time fine tuning my Homemade Pimms recipe let me tell you. Exhausting taste testings were happening at all hours of the day just so I could get the recipe extra right for you. It was essential that these taste testings happened in the garden as well, when the sun was just so, to guarantee the drink would work perfectly in an authentic environment. Even when I was ultra sure that the balanced of sweetness from my cucumber, lemon verbena and mint syrup was exactly correct and the blend of the gin, vermouth, orange curacao and aperol complimented each other impeccably, well, then started the road testing of all the mixers. I cannot tell a lie, it was a very trying week, and did not at all involve getting terribly merry in the middle of the working week for kicks. It was extremely hard work. You can thank me later.

Homemade Pimms Cup | Stroud Green Larder

Pimms is the best-known brand of summer fruit cup and it has become synonymous with the cocktail. It was invented in 1823 by James Pimm at The Oyster Bay in Lombard Street, London and was the first mass-produced summer fruit cup. Before then pubs and households just used to make their own blend, consisting of an alcohol base, usually gin, infused with herb and fruit extracts, then topped with a mixer to create a long drink. These days we are completely reliant on trusty old Pimms to herald our barbecues, sports days and of course Wimbledon, and why not, it’s a best seller for a reason.

It has been very important for me to get a good homemade version of the summer cup on the go. It’s absolutely quintessential this time of year and should you run out mid-barbecue it can incite riots amongst even the most polite members of middle England. A social gathering throughout the months of May-September would not be worthy of this country should Pimms not be involved and the great thing about it is how healthy it is. You should stuff as much fruit into your huge plastic jugs as you possibly can as then it has the added benefit of counting as part of your five a day, and that’s not even being facetious, like when you’re swigging back the sunny d and claiming it’s all for the greater good. In the early 1800s when summer cups were at the most popular they were sold as having health benefits, and I don’t see why we need to quibble, they all lived to a ripe old age back then didn’t they?

Pimms Cup Syrup | Stroud Green Larder

Making your own Pimms is extremely easy; it begins with an infused sugar syrup. All you need to do is add equal quantities of sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved, then tuck in mint leaves, lemon verbena and cucumber, which are the quintessential flavours to a summer cup. Simmer for a couple of minutes then take off the heat to infuse for an hour or so. This sugar syrup is then the base to which you add the alcohol, it just takes the edge of the potent concoction and sparks up notes of summer before you have even mixed it with all the fruit. The recipe for the syrup below is slightly too much for the amount of summer cup I made, I would have reduced the quantities for you, but making extra is a huge boon as I have been experimenting with this syrup in my drinks left, right and centre. It turns out it is pretty versatile, but the most successful use of it has been drizzling a bit in the bottom of a glass of prosecco to make the most summery bellini you could ever imagine. It’s definitely worth making the syrup for this purpose alone.

I didn’t want my Pimms to be as sweet as the commercial stuff so I was a bit restrained when adding the sugar syrup. I also achieved a more personal blend by adding a splosh more gin that a traditional recipe might include and also a little spritz of aperol which just grabs you just at the end.

Homemade Pimms Cup | Stroud Green Larder

Now, the main issue I have when drinking Pimms out and about is not the drink itself but the mixer that it generally paired with – commercial lemonade. It’s just too sweet for me and I can usually just about manage a whole glass before I’m done. I much prefer the taste of the other traditional mixer, ginger ale, but even that can be a bit sweet towards the end of the glass, particularly when you have reached the booze soaked strawberries. After my trials and tribulations going through all the mixers last week I had two absolute standouts. My preferred mixer was half ginger ale (preferably Fever tree) and half tonic water (ditto). Or, my personal favourite, if you want to go completely off piste, was when I paired the summer cup with iced tea. For me, it had the perfect levels of sweetness and refreshing vitality. I found the best ratio of either was 1 part summer cup to 3 parts mixer.

The final step is to make a huge jug of the stuff, fill with ice and a fruit salad of your choice, but the absolute necessities to include are cucumber, strawberries and fresh mint. The latter of which you must leave whole, there is nothing worse that picking bits of chopped mint out of your teeth when you’re trying to have a civilised conversation. Although feel free to add any other fruit you fancy as anything else is just fruity gravy.

Homemade Pimms Cup | Stroud Green Larder

I urge you to experiment with your own summer cup this summer and you’ll grow even more fond of this most cherished British summertime tradition.

Print Recipe
Homemade Pimms
Nothing says British summertime like a glass of Pimms
Delicious cool and refreshing Homemade Pimms
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
75 cl
Ingredients
For the summer cup syrup:
  • 250 ml water
  • 250 ml white sugar
  • ½ cucumber
  • tiny handful lemon verbena
  • 2 sprigs apple mint
For the summer cup:
  • 300 ml Gin
  • 200 ml Red Vermouth Martini Rosso
  • 100 ml Orange Curacao Triple Sec
  • 1 tbsp Aperol
  • 200 ml summer cup syrup
For mixing:
  • Either lemonade, ginger ale, tonic water or iced tea
For serving:
  • Strawberries, mint leaves and cucumber
  • Slices of orange, apple, lemon and other fruits are optional
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
75 cl
Ingredients
For the summer cup syrup:
  • 250 ml water
  • 250 ml white sugar
  • ½ cucumber
  • tiny handful lemon verbena
  • 2 sprigs apple mint
For the summer cup:
  • 300 ml Gin
  • 200 ml Red Vermouth Martini Rosso
  • 100 ml Orange Curacao Triple Sec
  • 1 tbsp Aperol
  • 200 ml summer cup syrup
For mixing:
  • Either lemonade, ginger ale, tonic water or iced tea
For serving:
  • Strawberries, mint leaves and cucumber
  • Slices of orange, apple, lemon and other fruits are optional
Delicious cool and refreshing Homemade Pimms
Instructions
  1. To make the syrup, heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Add the other ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside the saucepan to cool and the flavours to infuse for 1-2 hours. Strain then decant the syrup into a jar, you won’t need all of it for the recipe.
  4. Mix 200ml of the syrup with the alcohol, stirring it all together well. Decant into a jar until you are ready to drink it.
  5. Make up with 1 part summer cup to 3 parts mixer, plenty of ice and lots of mint, cucumber and chopped fruit.
  6. The summer cup will keep happily in your drinks cabinet for the whole of the summer, not that mine lasted the week.

Sesame Salmon Tartare: Day 22 of Whole30

Sesame Salmon Tartare
So I am finally on my last week of Whole30. I will not lie to you, it has been difficult. It isn’t so much the everyday eating which is all well and good as I love a bit of a salad, I am happy to eat my fair share of protein and I will wolf down pretty much any vegetable you put in front of me. However, I have felt a bit out at sea when I plain don’t want to cook or am out and about and have to rely on someone else’s cooking.

Salmon Marinade  |  Stroud Green Larder

Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

Good luck to you if you want to eat at a restaurant on the Whole30, it’s not an easy prospect due to restrictions on carbs, dairy, legumes and sugar but I just about managed it this weekend due to The Maynard in Crouch End’s hog roast stall. It was a bit of a palaver as I had to order the two components of my meal separately. I went into the pub to order the side salad off their normal bar menu and then once it had arrived I went out to the front of the pub to the special hog roast stall they had set up that day to order my pork sans brioche burger. It worked well in my favour though as I think he took pity on me for just ordering a pile of meat and served me the biggest portion of pork you can imagine. It ended up being a delicious lunch but it was the third pub we had gone into to try and find food and my hunger was beginning to turn me into the Hulk.

Dressed Cucumber  |  Stroud Green Larder

Black and White Sesame Seeds  |  Stroud Green Larder

In my normal every day life I eat out at restaurants a lot. I like to try new food, sample the extraordinary dishes of talented chefs and also, since I spend so much time in the kitchen myself, I am always looking for a bit of a break where someone else can cook for me. It is my absolute bugbear, therefore, that when I am trying to watch what I eat there is so little catering for that in the big wide world. So excuse me if I have a mini tantrum; feel free to skip down to the part where I discuss the recipe below if you can’t bear it, I have some nice things to say about my new salmon invention. Still reading, okay, you were warned. I look forward to the days, as I know they will arrive soon, when more UK restaurants and pubs understand that you don’t need carbs to have an enriching, complex and exciting meal. Salads and vegetables should be celebrated and treated like the main event and not an afterthought or a side dish. I know I can eat like this at home so is it so difficult to eat like this out of home? A few restaurants already understand this kind of cooking implicitly, the Ottolenghi restaurants always have queues stretching out the door and round the corner and it’s no wonder, the sheer variety in their ingredients and flavours is outstanding. Bruno Loubet’s Grainstore in Kings Cross also prides itself on giving vegetables equal billing, if not the starring role, to the meat and their menu is always fantastic and innovative. However, until these kind of restaurants become more prolific and pubs offer a more diverse menu then we will have to satisfy ourselves at home.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This sesame salmon tartare is a wonderful example of a carb free, sugar free and dairy free recipe which is just so satisfying and bounteous with all kinds of levels of flavour. It seems a bit fancy but it is really just a gussied up salad with no more skill required than just a bit of chopping and stirring. But then you taste it and you come right back to fancy again.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green LarderWhen you mention raw fish you tend to think of sushi or ceviche which can sound a bit clever and terrifying as you are dealing with raw fish. However, just make sure you trust where your fish is coming from and you’ll be fine to prepare either one at home. This recipe lies more on the ceviche side than the sushi side as the lime juice in the marinade ‘cooks’ the fish. The salmon is absolutely delicious on its own with a definite hint of umami but with the addition of lightly dressed cucumber and naked avocado it becomes a proper event. It’s the kind of food that requires you to sit at the table and savour every mouthful. Don’t skimp on the sesame seed garnish either, if you can’t get hold of the black sesames just use the white ones, as they provide such a welcome delicate crunch to compliment the soft salmon and the creamy avocado.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This recipe is perhaps a tad too much for two but if you serve it for four then it’s an excellent starter if you are having people over to dinner.

Sesame Salmon Tartare
Serves 2-4

350g salmon fillet, skin removed
Juice of 3 limes
25ml sesame oil
25ml coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you are not Whole30)
1 chilli, sliced thinly
2 avocados
½ cucumber
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp light olive oil
1 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together the lime juice, sesame oil, coconut aminos and chilli.
  2. Then dice the salmon into small cubes and submerge into the marinade. Stir everything together so the marinade can fully absorb into the salmon then put cling film over the top and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel, de-stone and slice the avocado thinly, arrange it at the bottom of your serving dishes.
  4. Then prepare the dressing for the cucumber by mixing together the rice vinegar and olive oil.
  5. Peel and scoop out the seeds from the cucumber. Dice it very finely then add it to the dressing, mixing it all up thoroughly. Pile the cucumber on top of the avocado on your serving dishes.
  6. Then arrange your salmon on top and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.