I grant that this post is past seasonal and the best of the elderflowers have, alas, continued on their berry journey, smelling briefly of cat piss in the process.
But I’m blaming the broken shoulder and the heat and the busy-ness and all manner of other things for the tardiness of this post.
In my fracture-compelled confinement, time was freed up for a spot of foraging. So in an effort to distract me from lying on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits and kettle chips, my aunt and sister took me to The Downs for some elderflower foraging.
Foraging might be a la mode at the moment, but my interest stems not from pikey or hipster tendencies but from seeing a carpet of wasted, rotting fruit over the pavement last autumn. It struck me that our grandparents would be *horrified* that I couldn’t even identify the spoiled goodness that was almost certainly edible. I can’t even identify basic trees any more and I’m sure we all could as kids. There’s a disconnect from nature and I want to fix mine.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the slightest clue what elderflowers even look like. Not a promising start. Luckily, Google did. Here they are, pretty, delicate little white flowers with tiny spheres exploding out of them.
As in any good nursery rhyme, we collected three bags full. It’s not good form to sweep the bushes entirely of flower heads as it steals all the berries from later in the season (but you do want to pick the biggest and best).
Then the magic can begin…
You will need:
- 1 bag of granulated sugar
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1 sachet of citric acid (available from pharmacies)
- 30 heads of elderflower
- 1.5 litres of water
1. Shake / wash the elderflowers and place them in large bowl.
2. Heat sugar in water. Bring to the boil and stir until dissolved. Stir in citric acid.
3. Part zest of lemons (thick) and put in with elderflowers. Slice lemons and add slices to bowl.
Pour over boiling syrup. Cover with cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
4. Strain and store in sterlized bottle. (Here’s how to sterilize glass bottles.)
What to do if it starts to go mouldy…
The point of processing food with lots of sugar was always to preserve it, so you can reasonably expect your elderflower cordial not to go mouldy. However, it does happen, likely because you haven’t sterilised the bottles properly.
Don’t panic. All is not lost. Boil a jay cloth, restrain the elderflower through the sterilized cloth, reboil the cordial and then put the warm cordial back into the warm bottle.
It might look like wee, but it tastes wonderful, with apple juice, or soda water, or in a crunch cake (lemon drizzle, ramped up), or whizzed up with cucumber into a spritzer. But most especially with gin.