Thursday, 19 May 2011

Elderflower Heaven

My kitchen smells glorious today! Next week sees the arrival of guests for two weeks of painting bliss with celebrated artist Nicola Slattery so I'm busy in the kitchen and garden preparing treats for their stay. I love foraging in the hedgerows around here, particularly the ones at 'Les Cerisiers' and right now they are dominated by the splendour of Elderflowers. I love the creamy mass of brightness, the sweet scent they produce and their promise of Elderflower cordial and, later on in the year, elderbery jam and wine. Today I thought I'd share my recipe for the cordial with you:

You will need-

1.5 litres water

1.5 kilos of white sugar

2 oranges thinly sliced

2 lemons thinly sliced

Thinly sliced ginger to taste

40 grammes citric acid (available from chemists)

20 Elderflower heads

What to do-

On a warm afternoon or evening (and we're having quite a few of these at the moment) harvest your flower heads. Just snip across the stalk to keep the flower heads whole. Fresh flower heads will be light and creamy with plenty of pollen and are heavily fragranced. If they smell like old socks or cats pee, they are passed their best (or your cat has widdled on them) so don't use them. As you harvest the flower heads, lie them flower down, stalk up, on a flat surface giving any unwanted visitors the opportunity to escape. There are no strict rules regarding numbers of flower heads, I was making a double batch and lost count after 27, it doesn't matter.

Warm the sugar and water in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. Add the flower heads and bring to the boil again then remove from the heat. Stir in your remaining ingredients and leave this mixture to steep for 24 hours in a cool place whilst you enjoy yourself doing something that makes you feel glad to be alive.

Strain the liquid into bottles or jars that can be well sealed. The cordial will keep for up to a year if placed in the freezer or 2 months in the fridge.
To serve, blend with mineral water or lemonde then share with a friend.

NB Harry Cat has agreed to his photo being published on the understanding that I point out he has in no way interfered with the Elderflowers featured in a negative way!

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