I did something for the first time last week. I went foraging for elderflowers. I was reading up about elderflowers being in bloom during May and June, and I suddenly was noticing them everywhere. I saw them from the train, in the parks, in private gardens and peaking through fences. London is abundant with them right now and I inspired to make elderflower cordial, a first for me.
A short walk around the neighbourhood park and I was rewarded with a bounty supply of elderflowers. I knew my mini foraging expedition was completely legal, but I still felt like people walking by me were judging, and no doubt thought I was being a thief.
Elderflower is so wonderfully pungent. I made a few batches of the cordial and the fridge is well stocked. If you live in the city, it's best to pick elderflowers from trees in a park, away from a train line or a main road. I tried to keep a small bouquet of elderflowers in a vase for decoration, but these delicate beauties don't last very long and tend to wilt very quickly once picked. They should be used on the day they are picked.
The cordial makes a refreshing summery drink. Add soda water with slices of cucumber, lime, raspberries, strawberries, orange slices. Orange blossom or rose essence with mint also goes down nicely. Or you could try adding a dash of vodka or gin. There are so many possibilities. So go out and pick elderflowers while they last.
15 elderflower heads
1.5 L boiled water
450g caster sugar
25g citric acid
Peel of 1 orange
1 lemon sliced
2 limes sliced
Gently shake the elderflowers to remove any bugs. Do not wash the elderflowers. Place the caster sugar in a large canister and pour in the boiled water. Stir and allow to cool. Add the citric acid, lemons, orange peel, limes and elderflower heads into the canister. Let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours. Once ready, strain the mixture through a muslin cloth. Bottle in sterilised jars.
To serve, add some of the cordial in a glass, added a few slices of limes and cucumber, and top with chilled soda water. Adjust the cordial according to your taste.
Try adding ginger slices or rose petals to the mixture.