Here in Edinburgh we are always a few weeks behind the rest of the country in our growing seasons and I’ve been impatiently awaiting elderflower season. At last, in the final week of June, the elder blooms are bursting from the hedgerows. I made it my mission to forage my own to make some cordial this Summer – as I’ve wanted to do for so long – and I was thoroughly pleased with the results! The flavour of homemade cordial is more complex and intense than the shop bought variety, so even if you’ve never foraged before I urge you to give it a go! Make sure you read up on the correct flowers, and only pick open blooms – never brown, which are past their best. The advice is to pick in the morning, preferably on a sunny day (although those have been few and far between here) and not to wash the elderflowers, as this would dull the lovely flavour. I researched loads of recipes online before finally plumping for a reliable Mary Berry. To make the cordial, you will need:
750g caster sugar
12 heads elderflower
(Optional: citric acid, 2 campden tablets – this will make the cordial keep for longer).
Put the sugar and 750ml of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
Slice the lemon thinly and place in a large bowl/ receptacle. Add the elderflower heads (and citric acid/ Campden tablets if you’re adding them – being careful to stand back from the mixture as they can produce an irritant gas, hence why I left them out, but Mary recommends them if you want to keep the cordial a long time. Mine isn’t lasting long anyway!)
Pour over the cooled sugar syrup.
Cover and leave overnight or up to a couple of days.
Once infused, strain the mixture through a muslin into sterilised bottles.
Store the cordial in the fridge and serve with sparkling water or lemonade.
I thought I’d also share a recipe for elderflower fizz too, a delicious soft drink that you could also add gin to for a Summery cocktail.
You need a few slices of lime and a wee squeeze of the juice, a small handful of mint leaves and some soda water. Chuck it all in with a glug of cordial, mix and serve.
A delicious tipple for Midsummer that tastes all the better for being homemade!
Have you foraged elderflower before? What’s your Midsummer treat?