May / June (depending on the weather) is when the hedgerows in Sussex begin to fill to the brim with Elderflower. A few years ago our Autumn hedgerows could be foraged at our leisure for the brambles and sloes to make our Autumn foraged foods… but the trend for all things home made has seen us have to strategically plan our hedgerow attack.. to ensure we dont get pipped to the post!
At the moment Elderflowers are still not widely harvested… so our stash is safe for now and we are making bumper batches to keep in the larder. Over the years I have used different recipes – but have decided that this version makes the most potent brew with the least amount of ‘faffing’.
Firstly pick your heads on a dry (preferably sunny) morning – for maximum flavour. The flowers should be in bloom – neither in bud nor wilting brown.. and I pick the whole head and count the bounty like this.
For my recipe you will need 30 heads of elderflowers – which makes approximately 1.5 litres of cordial.
YOU WILL NEED
- 30 Elderflower Heads (pick them on the morning of making)
- 1.5 litre of water
- 1.5kg sugar
- 3 unwaxed lemons
- Campden tablet (optional)
- Gently shake the flower heads and leave then in a bowl in the shade for any bugs to scuttle away. DO NOT WASH.
- Boil the water
- Zest and slice the lemons and place in a large bowl along with the sugar
- Put the flowers in the bowl too and pour over the boiling water
- Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved
- Leave to steep for at least 24 hours – covered with a teatowel
- Place a muslin in a seive and place this over a large pan – pour over your concoction and allow to drain into the pan
- Gently bring to the boil and then allow to simmer (bubble gently not furiously) for 10 minutes
- Meanwhile prepare your bottles by running through the dishwasher or rinsing under a hot tap
- Using a funnel – pour the cordial into the bottles and close
- NOTE: The citrus stops the cordial fermenting and so this should keep for about a month in the fridge. If you want it to store for longer you can replace the lemons with 7g of citric or tartaric acid … or just before bottling you can add a dissolved campden tablet, used in winemaking, which means you can store your produce for up to 1 year!
My favourite mix? A large dash of cordial, an measure of botanical gin topped with soda water and a cucumber icecube.. a taste of Summer