Foraging for Elderflower Cordial

Saturday, 7 July 2012

I've been a little naughty and not posted here in a while as I've been writing loads on Becky's Boudoir.  But, I do have plenty things to share with you, including today's activity: foraging for elderflowers and making elderflower cordial.  Yum!

Living out in the countryside you visibly see the changes in the seasons and weather and get to learn when natural foods are in their prime for picking.  Early summer is the flower of the Elder tree's time to shine.  If you make a point of looking for it, you'll notice elderflowers in their bunches of creamy white glory along hedgerows everywhere, even in towns.  What you want to make sure is to pick the flowers away from roadsides to avoid polluted flowers and go for the whiter, younger flowers over the creamy yellow older flowers.  Dry days are also, apparently, best for picking.  Today we were lucky to have a good bright sunny day without any rain for once so me and Sean took the opportunity to reap our harvest.

The sun was hot out yet there was a refreshing breeze blowing on our backs which made our foraging all the more enjoyable.  What was not enjoyable though were the muddy fields where the torrential rain had seeped down to the bottom of the fields and congealed in thick stodgy mud swamps.  I would usually have worn my walking boots but on this occasion (of course!) I went with my trainers.  The mud took a liking to them and sucked my trainer right into the mud leaving me socked foot free, which then in my attempt to gain my balance plunged right back into the mud.  Yuk!  It wasn't pleasant and I was later wishing Sean had recorded me so I could at least send it into You've Been Framed.  When I ended up total foot submerged in the preceding giant puddle ponds, I decided the foraging was complete and I couldn't wait to get home and shower!

Me all muddied up

A bowl of elderflowers

After a good wash and refuel I set onto preparing the cordial.  We had managed to gather two carrier bags of flowers so I trimmed the bunches down and removed any lurking bugs.  (There was a spindly spider tinkering around amongst them which Sean promptly evicted for me!)  Flowers all checked and trimmed went into a standby bowl while the sugar and water was boiled up to create a syrup.

The sugar and water syrup

Boiling the elderflowers

With the syrup boiled we added the elderflowers and brought the pan to a boil again.  I then added orange slices, lemon juice and citric acid.  The mixture was stirred up and simmered then left to cool in the pan, covered over.  When it's cooled, the infusing mixture will go into the fridge for 24-48 hours, stirred occasionally.  My plan then is to drain and separate the liquid which will then be poured into glass bottles.

Simmering fruity flowers

A word of warning about citric acid:  it's a nightmare to find in the shops.  After much investigation, we eventually found a specialist homemaking beer and wine shop who sold us a tub (500g for £3.99).  You will have to ask for citric acid over the counter as drug concoctioners use it.

I don't have a clue how the cordial will turn out as this is my first foray into cordial making.  I did make this with oranges and only lemon juice so it may be different, but I'm hoping it'll be tasty and fragrant and even a little as nice as the commercially made elderflower cordial.  It's a gorgeous infusion to drink diluted with still or sparkling water.  I'll have to let you know how it tastes!

Do you have any fail safe recipes you make up each year?  Any tips?

Becky x


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