For a couple of weeks, the hedgerows have been full of white clusters of elderflower. We have been desperate to start picking so that we can make some elderflower cordial – but with no citric acid, (apparently a vital ingredient), it looked like we were going to give it a miss. For the last 12 weeks, we have been avoiding shops completely but then, my Mum got a phone call asking her to pick up a prescription from the chemist so we were back in business! We headed to the chemist and without even stopping to go home, we headed up the hill to start gathering!
There were so many beautiful, big heads of blossom up in the woods and we ended up picking way more than we needed! We picked them in the morning as I had read that it is best to pick the flowers early because later in the day they start to smell (they smelt pretty bad in the morning too though!) We returned home with our bag of blossoms and picked out the best 30 heads. We cleaned and trimmed them and put them into a saucepan with citric acid, 2 lemons and 1 orange (sliced). We poured on 3 pints of water brought the mixture to the boil.
We then turned off the heat, put the lid on and left them to ‘stew’ for 24 hours.
The next day, we strained the mixture through a muslin and squeezed out every last drop of liquid. We transferred the (rather unpleasant smelling) juice to a clean saucepan, brought it to the boil and stirred in 900g caster sugar. We left it to simmer for 5 minutes and, then poured it into 2 sterilised glass bottles (we used some glass water bottles).
We waited, not very patiently, for it to cool, and then diluted it with water. It was absolutely delicious – although, with the amount of sugar in it, it should be! You can taste the lemon and orange as well as the elderflower. After discovering how good it was, my mum and I are thinking of experimenting with elderflower jelly, so if all the torrential rain hasn’t brought down all the blossom, we might be raiding the hedgerows again this week!
You can find a full recipe for elderflower cordial here.