One of the true quintessential enjoyments in the UK, either during the summer or just after so as to hold on to the season for as long as possible, is harvesting elderflowers, and making elderflower cordial.
The creamy-white flowers, with their distinctive sweet scent, can be seen cropping out of hedgerows, woodlands and scrubland all over the UK during the summer months, just begging to be picked and due to their abundance, they can easily be gathered to make delicious and aromatic cordial.
When can you pick elderflowers?
The optimum time to pick elderflowers is when their tiny buds are just beginning to open up. On a warm and dry day, when you are likely to get a whiff of the elderflower’s perfume-like scent. The only thing to remember is to not overharvest when picking them.
So if you were one of those who were out picking this summer, why not try making a tasty elderflower cordial with the fruits of your labour?
· 25 elderflower heads
· Grated zest of 3 lemons and 1 orange
· Juice squeezed from the lemons and orange (around 150ml)
· 1kg of sugar
· 1 heaped tsp of citric acid, if available
Step 1: Add the flower heads and the orange and lemon zest together into a large bowl. Boil 1.5 litres of water and pour this into the bowl with the elderflowers and zest. Next, you will need to cover and leave overnight, by doing this you are allowing all of the ingredients to infuse with the water.
Step 2: Once infused, you should begin to strain the liquid through a piece of muslin over a saucepan in order to extract the liquid.
Step 3: Add the sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and citric acid to the pan. Heat the pan gently on a moderate heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once you have done this you’ll then need to bring to the boil, allowing your cordial to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Step 4: The cordial has now been made! Go ahead and pour the finished product into sterilised bottles from the pan using a funnel, before sealing up until using.
Elderflower cordial can be served as a drink, diluted with two parts water for every one part of cordial, or alternatively, can be used to pour over a fruit salad. Or why not try freezing in moulds to make refreshing ice lollies? Perfect to try on weekend breaks for families!
Image: Magda under Creative Commons.