It is officially summer time (in Cumbria at least) although it must have been summer time elsewhere for some time, we are always a tad behind. The hedgerows are full of billowing clouds of elderflowers with their sweet smell and I am looking forward to gathering them for a summer treat -ambrosial elderflower cordial . Here is a very simple recipe, just a compilation of ingredients really but there are just a few things to bear in mind before you dash out into the countryside: gather the flowers on a sunny day and look for ones that are fully out, they should have a distinct flowery smell. Also don’t pick those along the roadsides which may be contaminated with car fumes etc. Avoid actually washing them if you can, choose clean ones.
For a delicously summery drink add the cordial to Prosecco or for a non-alcholic version dilute with tonic water and serve with lots of ice, lemon slices and fresh mint. Ideally you should be drinking this in the sunshine in a beautiful summer garden or beside a babbling brook in the shade…………………………………………..but it tastes just as lovely anywhere.
You can reduce the cordial to make it more syrupy and then pour this over ice cream or use to flavour cakes and biscuits. It is beautiful with that other fleeting summer treat, gooseberries. Lightly cook them (just until they burst and no more) in a tiny amount of water. Add sugar and cordial and liquidise (reserving a few for the tip). When cold fold into creme fraiche or greek yoghurt and serve with a drizzle or the more concentrated syrup, the reserved gooseberries and a few elder flowers.
50g citric acid**
20 heads of Elderflowers, shaken and clean
- Boil the water, add the sugar and stir until dissolved, pour into a large mixing bowl. Allow the water to cool.
- Remove the rind with a paring knife and then juice-add both to the bowl. Add the citric acid.
- Add the elderflowers. Stir and cover. Stand for 24 hours.
- Strain and bottle.
- Store in the fridge.
- Dilute to taste with water. It is ready to drink and will keep for several months.
*I have reduced the sugar –you can always add more if you think it is not sweet enough. You can also increase/decrease the citric acid to taste-do this after straining.
**The citric acid gives it a nice ‘tang’ but if you can’t get hold of it use 3 lemons and after juicing put all the shells into the mix.
You can use this to drizzle over ice cream or Greek yoghurt or fold into a gooseberry fool. Make a summer cocktail with tonic water or Prosecco, fresh raspberries and mint leaves.