Well I’m already doing much better at preserving this year than I was last year. A few batches of rhubarb and cinnamon jam and of rhubarb cordial, a batch of lilac cordial (which I’m turning into wine) and I finally bottled my rose petal wine that I think I kicked off in 2018!
This week I’ve switched focus to elderflower. Elder is an amazing tree to get to know for foraging. The flowers are quite distinctive (as is the smell – fragrant but turns a bit cat peey as the blossom ages) and come in nice and early before you have too many things on your plate. The berries will develop if you don’t pick the flower head, and whilst they aren’t one to eat straight off the tree, they make a great wine, jam, gin flavouring or syrup. It’s always best to leave some flowers up top for the birds (saves you reaching) and some down low for you to collect the berries from later in the year.
In the past we used to make a lot of elderflower wine and even did elderflower champagne for a friend’s wedding and then our own wedding. Sam’s not as keen on the elderflower taste now and we’ve moved away from buying in things to preserve, using what the land gives us instead and we only have 1 good Elder here.
So this year I thought I’d try my hand at an elderflower cordial. Things I can actually drink whilst I’m not drinking alcohol, and that I can get the kids involved in are hits at the moment. I’m terrible at following recipes. Give me a protocol in the lab and I’ll follow it to the letter, give me a recipe and my brain gets bored halfway through the ingredients list. So I’m not sure what recipe I followed, when I looked back to see what to do after steeping I can’t find a recipe that matches what I’d done so far. It came out well though so I’ll tell you what I did.
~30 heads of elderflower in good bloom, snipped into smaller ‘heads’
4 lemons – rind and juice
2kg of sugar
1l of water
I snipped the heads of elderflower down to remove most of the stem and placed them in a pot with the rind and juice of the lemons (seeds included as I squeezed them by hand).
Next I boiled up the water and added the sugar. Off the heat I stirred it until the sugar dissolved and left it for 10 mins to cool off a bit.
Pour the syrup over the elderflower and lemon mix. Leave to steep for at least 24 hours. Mine got left for 2 days.
Scoop off the elderflowers and strain the cordial. At this stage I used a fine sieve but I think next time I’d just a straining bag as there were a few black bits that came through that might be off putting to some.
Pour into sterilised bottles and pasteurise. If you aren’t comfortable pasteurising you could heat the cordial and then bottle hot. Allow to cool and store in a cupboard, refrigerate once opened.
Ours came out very strong, you don’t have to add much at all to get a good flavour. We got 3x 750ml bottles, I think I will get some smaller bottles for cordial though as the 750ml ones last a long time. Next up is hopefully rhubarb gin, elderflower vodka and rhubarb and ginger jam.