Monday, June 08, 2015


Well, I made three things from the big bag of elderflowers I collected and at least one of them has already been a smash success.

I put up ten litres of wine and three L of liqueur. The fastest thing was the cordial, however, which is intended to be simply a sweet infusion. I tried it today and it is fantastic.

I combined the grated rind of a lemon, a leaf of sage, a handful of rose petals and a pile of elderflowers with water, sugar, honey and citric acid (preservative). You bring the water, lemon and sugar to almost a boil and let it dissolve and cool a bit.

While it's cooling, cut as much of the stems off the flower sprigs as you can. The stems and leaves of elder are toxic. Not enough to really harm you, but not good for you either. The flowers by themselves are fine. Just remove as much of the stems as you can.

Then add all the flora and stir gently. Pour the whole thing into a big glass hinge-lid jar and seal. Leave it to sit for two days to infuse. Then strain through cheesecloth and bottle. I used plastic 1/2 L water bottles. The amount came to about 3L and you can freeze whatever you're not going to use right away. If you're going to freeze it, make sure the bottles are plastic, not glass, and that you leave at least two fingers-width at the top of the bottle to allow the water to expand.

It was so amazing that I used the rest of the leftover elderflowers today to set up another batch. This time I did 8L of water, with 250g of honey (no sugar) three large sage leaves, a big handful of rose petals and half an apple grated in. Brought the water, lemon, sage and apple just barely up to a boil. The elderflowers, after spending two days in the fridge, were still very fragrant, but they also had let go of the stems pretty well, so I was able to eliminate the stems altogether just by gently coaxing the flowers off with my fingers. It took about an hour to de-stem the flowers and in the end I think I had about five cups of flowers.

Seriously, it's absolutely gorgeous. Delicate floral flavour with a hint of lemon. I've been mixing it with sparkling mineral water.

The Elderflower champagne just sat in the bucket smiling up at me, entirely innocent of any sign of fermentation. After two days, I decided to force the issue, and stirred in about 20g of brewer's yeast. Then I left it to spend a long weekend in Rome. I hope I don't come home to a disaster. But it was certainly starting to sizzle a bit by Friday morning.


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