May 16, 2020
Plant Porn: The Elderflower
Elderflower trees are EVERYWHERE in the UK, and around about mid-May to early June they are bursting into life with their sweet-scented, fluffy bursts of blossoms which can be harvested and used to make basically the absolute taste of summer.
Head outside and flex your foraging skills to make some delicious elderflower cordial.
Firstly, find your elderflower! You're going to need around 20 flower heads for your cordial. It can be identified by its flat-topped clusters of tiny, creamy-white flowers, feather-shapes leaves, young green twigs and greyish-brown, deeply furrowed bark.
It's best picked first thing in the morning, when the flowers are sweetest and the bugs are still asleep.
Remember to forage responsibly - do not take more than you need, and don't trespass to get it!
- 20 fresh heads of elderflowers, stems trimmed
- 2 unwaxed lemons, zested in strips and sliced into rounds
- 2.5kg of caster or granulated sugar
- 85g citric acid (can be bought online or from chemists)
1. Create a sugar syrup by putting the sugar and 1.5 litre into a large saucepan and heat gently (don't boil) until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside
2. In a bowl of cold water, gently swish the elderflower heads to remove any bugs or dirt. Lift out and gently shake off water.
3. Place the lemon zest and slices into the pan of sugar syrup, along with the washed flower heads and the citric acid. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
4. After 24 hours, strain the syrup through a cheesecloth or clean towel, letting it slowly drip through. Discard the bits left in the cloth, and use a funnel to transfer the strained syrup into sterilised bottles. It's ready to drink straight away and is good for up to 6 weeks in the fridge, or can also be frozen.
WHERE TO USE IT
- Add a dash to your G&T. Elderflower goes best with a sweeter gin like Bloom, Tarquin's or Martin Miller's. You can also freeze it as an ice cube if you're feeling a bit extra.
- Kick your lemon drizzle up a notch. Follow you favourite lemon drizzle cake recipe, adding a couple of tablespoons of elderflower cordial to the drizzle icing at the end to give your bake a flower note.
- Mix 1 part cordial to 5 parts soda water and lots of ice and some sliced lemon for a really refreshing summer sip.
- Get real bougie with a champagne and elderflower granita. Mix 300ml elderflower cordial, champagne and soda water at a ratio of 2:2:1. Pour into a dish so it sits around 3-5cm deep. Place in the freezer, removing and scrambling with a fork every 30 minutes until it has the consistently of chunky shaved ice, which is when it's read to serve - don't overfreeze!