The elder trees and bushes have been a wonderful mass of white flowers for about a month and I have made several batches of elderflower cordial which have gone into the freezer.
These photos were taken when I made the latest batch.
This is the most productive elder bush that we have access to, behind the shed on our allotment. A wild rose is intertwined so it looks extremely pretty despite ‘allotment views’ of compost bins, corrugated iron, brambles etc!
In our garden the elder is more of a tree as there are so many shrubs and trees that anything that can grow into a tall plant to reach the light does so. Therefore picking the flowers in the garden (for the first batch of cordial) involved a step ladder.
Here is a close up – each cluster of blossoms was between 10 and 15 cms across.
They went into the trug to take home.
And after inspection for unwanted beetles etc I put the flower heads in a bowl and started adding other ingredients, starting with the rind of an orange in this case. The recipe I use is 25 flower heads, rind and later juice of 3 lemons and 1 orange, plus water and sugar. This batch suffered from shopping delays – we had a 10 day gap between ‘click and collect’s which was no problem – but by the time I came to make this batch we only had oranges and ‘easy peelers’ in the fruit bowl (and the flowers can’t hang about until new lemons arrive). This of course is all to do with not popping out to the shops when we need something, to minimise risk of catching the virus.
Using the zester.
Fruit waiting to be used.
!.5 litres of boiling water go in on top of flower heads and zest+easy peeler skins (too difficult to scrape zest off them). The flowers immediately start to look wilted and discoloured. This is the last of the pretty photos!
After steeping overnight in the bowl covered in cling film the contents are unattractively dark and soggy!
The next stages are to strain the liquid through sterilised muslin into a saucepan and add the juice of the fruit plus sugar. The recipe suggests a lot of sugar to make a nice sweet syrup. But we like it less sweet so I only added 250 grams.
The strained liquid has to simmer for a short time – it came to the boil as this picture shows, before I turned it down.
I decanted the cordial into a clean jug and poured it into freezer boxes. It does not keep for any length of time even in the fridge so I freeze it and thaw as required.
Labelled and ready for freezing. I noticed when I put these in the freezer, that I’d added a time limit ‘use within a week after opening’ on earlier batches.
The proof of all this is what it tastes like – normally a good refreshing drink that can be improved by adding fizzy rather than still/tap water and of course far cheaper than commercial versions of elderflower cordial or ‘sparkling elderflower’ that we can buy in the supermarket, but not so long lasting.