Elderflower season is later this year compared to the previous few years but it won’t be long before we see the large white fragrant fronds of little white flowers in the hedgrow.
Did you know each plant smells different? Also the smell gets more pugnant as the day goes on and not as pleasant. Pick the flowers after a few dry days when they are the most fragrant. I like to pick them mid morning after a week or so while the fragrance is still fresh and the morning due has evaporated. Please do not go overboard picking the flowers, they will turn into berries which birds eat in the Autumn (and you can also make elderberry syrup which has many beneficial properties).
How do I make elderberry cordial?
You will need up to 20 or so flower heads. Steep them overnight in a large bowl covered with cool boiled water or up to two days to extract the flavour with a chopped up lemon.
Strain the liquid in to a jug. Make a note of the volume and add the liquid to a large pan. For every litre of liquid add 700-750g of sugar. Bring to the boil gently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the cordial into sterilised bottles or jars. You can add less sugar if you wish.
It keeps for several weeks in the fridge or you can add citric acid about 50g to preserve it for longer.
What can I use elderflower cordial for?
You can use it to flavour cakes, icing, jams and jellies. Also good with gin, vodka and a nice tonic.
How do I make Elderflower champagne (old recipe from one of my allotment pals)
Add 500g of sugar to 2 pints of boiling water in pan and stir until dissolved.
Add 5 pints of cooled boiled water, 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 7 or 8 large elderflower heads to the pan.
Place a lid on the pan and let the mix steep for up to 48 hours. Strain the liquid through a muslin into plastic bottles with screw lids.
Elderflowers contain natural yeast and reacts with the sugar. Release the pressure of the bottles morning and night for 1 week before placing them in the fridge. Release the pressure every few days for another week then enjoy! It is important to ‘burp’ the bottles so the pressure does not build too high and cause the bottle to explode. ( I am very cautious and place the bottles in a plastic bag within the fridge just in case!)
If you want to learn more about cordials and jams, the next few months is a great time to have a private lesson or with a group of friends. I use fresh organic fruit from my allotment in my lessons which are not readibly available in the shops. From tayberries, pink goosberries and the freshest strawberries.