It is June and we are now past midsummer. The days are warm and balmy and the nights are fragrant and refreshing. Hedgerows are alive with bees, butterflies and other insects busy about their business and newly fledged birds pester their parents for food.
Elderflower is a staple of the British country hedgerow, and is often found freely in more urban areas as well. Anyone can harvest the flowers and make the gloriously summery elderflower cordial that you can use in drinks and baking.
Make sure you know what you’re looking for before you go out picking. You don’t want to be brewing a bottle of poison! Elderflowers are small, white and frothy. Make sure you are taking them from a tree and not from plants such as cow parsley/hogweed etc.
Here is some more information you can use to make sure you have correctly identified elderflowers:
Please check these out before you head out on your foraging expedition.
Once you have found your perfect elderflower trees ( try to take flowers from more than 1 tree, so they aren’t negatively impacted) pick your flowers and give them a light shake to remove any insects.
Make sure you don’t need or have obtained permission to forage on the land.
Once you have collected the right amount of flower heads, resist the temptation to run them under the tap. This will remove the flavour. Shaking insects out and removing any dead flowers will be fine. This recipe is from Countryfile magazine and makes approximately 3 litres of cordial.
- Caster sugar 1.5g
- Boiled water 1.5 litre
- Unwaxed lemons 3
- Elderflower heads 20
- Citric acid 80g, available from health food shops or chemists
Place the sugar into a saucepan, pour in the boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Grate the lemon rind, then slice the fruit and add to the pot. Add the citric acid and the elderflowers and stir.
Steep for 24–48 hours, then strain into sterilised bottles and store in a cool, dry place for up to a month or freeze.
Dilute with water to taste – fizzy water seems to create the perfect summer drink. You can even add it to champagne or prosecco – this is really tasty and I would recommend it.