One of the joys of living where we do is the abundance of opportunities for foraging in the local area. since we moved here last summer we have gathered apples, pears, plums, sloe berries, elderberries, hazelnuts, blackberries and strawberries and there are plenty of other plants, herbs and mushrooms which we have identified but not used.
Yesterday i was cycling back from a meeting and the elder trees were covered with flowers so i thought I’d pick a load to make cordial. I collected about 30 heads and put them in my bag (in hindsight a plastic bag would have been a good idea as my rucksack is now covered in pollen!)
Elderflower cordial is one of my favourite drinks and i can honestly say this is as nice as any I’ve had and its so easy to make. The recipe was based on those in Darina Allen’s forgotten skills of cooking (an amazing book!) And the river cottage hedgerow handbook (also a great book!). It’s worth making this as soon as you can after picking the flowers in order to get as much flavour from them as possible.
Approx 30 heads of elderflowers
90g citric acid
How to make it
1) bring the water to a boil in a large stainless steel pan.
2) Once the water boils take it off the heat and add the sugar. Stir gently until it dissolves.
3) cut the flowers off the heads of elderflower (don’t worry about getting rid of all the stalk, just the bigger bits and any bugs you come across!), add the flowers to the syrup.
4) slice the lemon thinly and add to the mixture along with the citric acid.
5) stir well then cover and leave overnight to infuse.
6) when the mixture has been infusing for at least 12 hours strain it through a muslin cloth into a large bowl.
7) pour the mixture into sterilised bottles, seal and label. They should keep for a couple of months in the fridge although of course you will drink them well before that!
8) to make the cordial into a drink mix 1 part cordial to about 6 parts water.
9) drink and enjoy!