Elderflower season occurs in May into June. You will see the large white fragrant fronds of little white flowers in the hedgerow. You may smell them before you see them!
Did you know each plant smells different? The smell gets more pungent as the day goes on. The best time to pick the flowers is after a few dry days, that is when they are most fragrant. I like to pick them mid-morning, while the fragrance is still fresh and the morning dew has evaporated.
Please do not go overboard picking the flowers, they will turn into berries which birds eat in the Autumn (these can be turned into elderberry syrup which has many beneficial properties).
How do I make elderflower cordial?
You will need approximately 20 flower heads: steep them overnight in a large bowl covered with cooled boiled water for up to 2 days; add a lemon sliced up to enhance the flavour.
Strain the liquid into 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. You can add less sugar if you wish but it will not keep as long.
Bring the mixture to a boil gently to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, pour the cordial into sterilised bottles or jars.
It keeps for several weeks in the fridge, or to preserve it for longer, you can add 50g of citric acid.
What can I use elderflower cordial for?
You can use it to flavour cakes, icing, jams and jellies. Also good with gin, vodka, a nice tonic, or used as a squash.
How do I make Elderflower champagne? (An old recipe from one of my allotment pals)
Add 500g of sugar to 2 pints of boiling water in a 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 cloth into plastic bottles with screw lids.
Elderflowers contain natural yeast that reacts with sugar. Release the pressure by twisting the caps of the bottles every 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 up 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 are 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 readily available in the shops. From tayberries, and pink gooseberries, to the freshest strawberries.
Get in touch to discuss your cooking lesson requirements.