It’s hard to believe whilst I sit here typing, listening to the summer rain pattering against the window, just how gloriously beautiful the afternoon was picking elderflowers only a few days before.
If there is one scent that smells of an English summer its elderflowers. Tiny beautiful frothy fragrant white flowers made from tiny blossoms appear from May onwards, with the black purply berries taking over from August.
Whilst we love some of the organic shop varieties, I really wanted to have a go at making it myself. I also wanted Neiva to have the whole experience. From picking to steeping, straining then decanting to drinking the final product.
Tips for picking Elderflower:
- Pick the flowers preferably around midday when the suns heat is on them. The warmth of the sun enhances the beautiful perfume.
- Make sure the flowers have plenty of blossom on them
- Do not gather after a rainfall. It’s the pollen that gives the flower flavour and the rain will wash that away.
- For the same reason as above, do not wash the flowers. Any insects or debris hiding amongst the tiny petals will be strained out later.
So after consulting my Hedgerow Handbook and with a beautiful sunny afternoon ahead of us, off we went to find our bounty. There were so many elderflowers to choose from we lost track of time and only when our basket was full to bursting did we venture back.
For this recipe you will need:
- 1.5 sugar
- 1.7 litres water
- 2 unwaxed lemons (sliced)
- Muslim cloth or jelly bag strainer
- Add the sugar and water to a pan and simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn off the heat and add the elderflowers (flower heads down to submerge them completely) and the lemon slices, cover and leave to sit for 24 hours to infuse.
- Strain the liquid with a muslin cloth.
- Decant into a glass bottle and top with either water, soda water (for elderflower presse) or champagne/prosecco (for a grown up version!)
This should keep for up to 6 weeks in the fridge although I doubt it will be there that long. I found the flavour is enhanced, very intense and extremely delicious in comparison to shop bought cordial. So sweet and so very fragrant.
Making elderflower cordial certainly isn’t a quick process, however as well as being a fantastic sensory and learning experience, it also taught Neiva to learn patience in a beautiful and fun way.
Good things do come to those who wait…..