Posts Tagged ‘preserve’

Pick your elderflowers for cordial soon

June 3rd, 2014

Elderflower cordial, made from wild elderflower heads, is a really easy “food for free”. But you’ll need plenty of elderflower “heads” to do the process justice. Right now, elderflowers aroundd Witney are absolutely at their peak—some have even “gone over” and are showing tiny, unripe berries—and when I went out to pick mine yesterday, the air around Deer Park practically whiffed of them!

If you’re interested in scavenging, then as long as you make sure there are enough heads left to produce a decent crop of berries, you should head to the nearby parks and paths; but do make sure you’re not picking on private land! As with any scavenging, you must make sure you know what you’re looking for: big, blowsy 15–20cm umbels made up of dozens of tiny cream-coloured flowers, each smaller than a pea. They should smell of elderflower cordial, basically; and if you haven’t had elderflower cordial, then oh boy! you’ve got a treat ahead of you…. But if in doubt, go with a friend who knows what they’re after. Also, try to pick them at the end of a sunny day, as damp flowers can smell a bit pungent.

Bowl of elderflower cordial ingredientsFor making the cordial, any recipe will do: here are two from BBC Good Food and River Cottage. But they’re all the same, really! Dissolve 2kg sugar in 1-2l heated water; add 20-30 heads-worth of washed, mostly destalked flowers; add 2-3 lemons along with their rind pared off, and 40-80g citric acid; steep for 24 hours, then filter. Only the quantities vary from recipe to recipe, and you should feel free to experiment with that for your own preference anyway.

So get picking; get steeping; bottle it up, or freeze it into ice cubes: and enjoy a taste of late spring all through summer, well into the autumn, and beyond!