Picking elderflowers and making cordial

Monday, June 20, 2016

picking elderflowers and making cordial
This year we have been eyeing up the elders with keen interest, gauging their progress from early spring. The flowers are worth their weight in gold so we made sure that when they were ready, we were ready too. Last weekend we went out while the rainclouds rolled closer with a pair of scissors and a bag to collect some precious flower heads. I braved long grass and stinging nettles on bare legs, a price worth paying.
picking elderflowers and making cordial

picking elderflowers and making cordial

picking elderflowers and making cordial

The timing was spot on; the first of the flowers were at their prime with plenty yet to bloom. We didn't take too many from each bush, it's important not to pillage the lot, leave plenty for nature to enjoy. You need to choose the flower heads which have flowers freshly opened. If they're starting to go brown then leave them.

It's utterly amazing really, how much nature can produce. After we filled a bag full of flower heads, we were pleased to see that we'd hardly made any impact at all in the quantity growing. Our plan was to make elderflower cordial, which we had tried last year but it had gone a bit wrong and fermented. In preparation, C bought two demijohns so that we could make a good lot.

The recipe for elderflower cordial we used (pro rata) suggested 4.5 litres of boiling water, in which we dissolved 3kg of sugar (yes, YIKES!). We left it to cool for quite a few hours until it was room temperature. To prepare the flowers we used a fork to ping the tiny flowers from the stems and picked out any bits that shouldn't be there before adding the flowers to the syrupy water. the zest of 4 lemons went in before C sliced up the lemons and popped them in too. Lastly, and quite importantly, some citric acid which should stop it fermenting this year. Leave to steep for 24-48 hours before passing through a muslin and bottling in sterilised bottles.
picking elderflowers and making cordial
 Don't forget this is a concentrated syrup, it can be diluted at least 1:4 or 1:6 with either water, soda water, white wine, vodka... You name it.
picking elderflowers and making cordial
I can't wait for my first sip, it smells like heaven. Update: it tastes like heaven too (and we've got another batch on the go)

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