A week of rain followed by a week of sunshine has had the most wonderful effect on the plants and greenery and you have probably noticed roses and peonies bursting into bloom and heavenly floral scents of wisteria suddenly filling the air (note, I wrote this a few weeks ago but have been very tardy in posting it!). We have noticed this week (lie, it was actually weeks ago) the elderflowers that were in hiding have sprung out to say hello and so thought it is the perfect time to get out with our snippers and make some cordial, along with our first attempt at champagne, fingers crossed there’s no explosions!
So first things first, if it's your first time foraging we would advise you look up a guide on how to spot elderflowers as there are quite a few plants that look similar, always pick on a bright sunny morning, away from any roads where there may be pollution and pick at waist level and higher as you wouldn’t want to pick anything that an animal has marked their territory on (eww)! Sniff each and every sprig before you pick it to ensure it has that delicious elderflower scent as some branches can smell not so nice and you wouldn’t want to put any of those in your drink.
So now you are home with your beautiful basket full of elderflowers and you are ready to make your cordial. You want to do this on the same day you picked them and before you start gently tap each sprig to help any hiding insects drop out, give the flowers a little rinse before use.
Fill your saucepan with hot water and add the lemons, then add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Once the mixture has cooled strain the liquid into a jug, use a muslin cloth to catch the flowers and then you are ready to pour this into your bottles. The cordial should keep for 3 months if stored in the fridge. As a cordial it should be diluted with water, lemonade or tonic (and a personal favourite a splash of gin!).
If you are feeling brave enough to make some elderflower champagne then we recommend this clip by the lovely Hugh of River Cottage.
Enjoy, Laura x