Thursday, 4 July 2013

Something for the weekend!

As summer strides past it's middle... er yes, that's right, we've gone past midsummer and even though it hasn't felt all that summery... the great thing about this season is that it does throw us a few bountiful treats and if you're anything like me you'll be happy to hear that those treats can be foraged for free!

Yup, absolutely free though I do suggest that you check if anyone owns the land especially f it's not obviously public land, but everywhere I looked there were tons of elderflower trees and so I took myself up to the Walthamstow Village cemetery and began picking!

Walthamstow Village...ST Mary's Church cemetery. Great for Elderflower and blackberries too!
So this weekend get out there and get ready to make some cordial which is an absolute summertime treat! Use it with soda water to create a refreshing drink or drizzle onto ice cream, desserts or even in cocktails. Yeah... that's pretty much why I made it... I do love a cocktail and a white rum and elderflower cordial punch is something I'm looking forward to drinking when it gets hot!!!
So here's a little recipe for you to try...

Elderflower Cordial...

prep time 40 minutes

steeping time 48 hours

  • 1k /2 ¼ lbs sugar
  • 1.5 litres / 6 cups boiling water
  • 2 medium un-waxed lemons, washed
  • 2 large limes, washed
  • 30 large Elderflower heads, shake to remove any insects or dust
  • 55g / 2 oz citric acid (available from a chemist or Wilkinson's in their home brew section)

  • Place the sugar into a large saucepan/stockpot or a large heat proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
  • Grate the rind of the lemons and the limes with a fine grater, add to the sugar water.
  • Slice the lemons and limes into thick slices and add to the water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the water and stir again.Remove as much as the stalk as you can.
  • Cover with a clean cloth or lid and leave to steep for 48 hours.
  • Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.We've used a colander with a jiffy cloth and strained it twice into a measuring jug to remove any bits.
  • Using a funnel, fill sterilised bottles (see note below). Seal and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks or freeze in plastic bottles to keep for longer (see note below).

Pick large heads which are in full bloom...

It's really easy to make and I for one am converted to making my own cordial now. In previous years I had thought it might be too complicated to make but as you can see from the recipe it's super easy. I'm planning on going to get some more so I can make some Elderflower Liqueur also there's another variant I want to try... I hear that if you add a couple of teaspoons of lavender flowers that it's even more yummy! Can't wait to try!!!

Doing the taste test!!! Mix with water to your own taste... we like it strong with plenty of rum though this one in the photo was just with cold spring water!

Once bottled keep your brew in a dark cool place preferably out of the fridge! We've added a brown paper label to help keep the light out...
To sterilise your bottles wash well with soapy water then dry in a medium/hot oven (gas mark 5 or 6) for about 10 minutes.
To freeze your cordial either fill ice cube trays or if you're freezing it in a bottle make sure to leave plenty of room as the liquid will expand during freezing.

The best way to pick your elderflower heads is to do it on a dry warm day as you want them to be at their most fragrant. Also make sure they are away from any busy roads as the elderflower tree will soak up all the nasty car fumes... yuck that's something you really don't want to bottle and drink!

P.S. Please forage responsibly. Even though we love free stuff we're also aware that nature also needs these Elderflower to feed all the beasties who are dependent on it for food so please pick only what you need!

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