From late May and throughout June we can enjoy the heady scent of elderflowers, but we only have a short window of opportunity to make our favourite infused products including gin, cordial, vinegar and champagne!
Our team have been out foraging in their gardens and hedgerows to gather ingredients to make their favourite seasonal produce.
Here are Alex's tried and tested recipes:
Please don't strip the trees: leave some for the local wildlife and to ensure good future growth.
Our little ones love elderflower cordial so it is great to involve them in finding and picking elderflowers and helping to concoct it!
Here's the recipe that we use:
1 litre boiling water
2 litres of cold water
900g of white sugar (granulated or caster)
50g citric acid (optional)
2 unwaxed lemons
25 elderflower heads (brushed/shaken off to remove insects)
You can buy citric acid in a range of places, such as Wilkinsons, Amazon and some chemists.
You could also add 2 Campden tablets to extend the shelf life and enable you to store indefinitely, but be careful when using them as they can emit irritant gas - so do not inhale when adding.
Put the sugar in a bucket and pour over the boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar
Add the cold water to speed up the cooling process.
Add the citric acid (job for an adult)
Squeeze the lemons then slice up the remaining skin and pith thinly, add to the bucket
Add the elderflowers and stir everything up together
Cover the bucket with a tea towel and leave to steep for 1 day, stirring occasionally
Strain through a muslin cloth and pour into sterilised bottles
Keeps for 3-4 months in the fridge (without Citric Acid it will keep for 3-4 weeks in the fridge). You can add Campden tablets to keep it for a much (much, much) longer period in a cool dark place.
I absolutely love the taste of elderflowers and wanted to find ways to capture the beautiful floral aroma and taste in more ways, so last year I did some experiments with infused vinegars: adding lime and ginger and using different types of vinegar. My favourite was the small sample I did of elderflower combined with white wine vinegar - we all loved it. Shame I had to wait a whole year to make another batch!
Here's the recipe:
15 elderflower heads
500ml white wine vinegar (though cider vinegar is good too)
Shake any bugs off the elderflowers (do not wash them)
Remove the flowers from the stalks and add them into a large jar (big enough to hold all of the ingredients)
Add the vinegar and lid of the jar
Give it a shake and leave for 10 days in a cool, dark place, shaking occasionally
Strain through a muslin and store in sterilised jars or bottles
Will keep for at least a year!
Rhubarb & Elderflower Gin
Combining two of my favourite flavours: rhubarb freshly plucked from my parents' veg patch and more heady elderflowers. I hear that rhubarb is a great source of vitamin K. I am not sure it counts in this form, but I like to think it is mildly nutritional!
I tried a few recipe variations last year, all were delicious, but this was my favourite:
1 litre of gin (any standard london dry gin works, don't go for anything that is already quite botanical or flavoured)
2 tbsp white caster sugar
8 elderflower heads (bugs shaken off)
4 large stalks of rhubarb
1.5 - 2 litre kilner jar - sterilsed
Chop the rhubarb stalks into chunks and add to jar
Remove flowers from the main stem of the elderflower heads and also add to the jar
Pour in the gin
Stir in the sugar
Leave to brew for 4 weeks in a cool dark place, shaking from time to time to ensure the sugar mixes in
Strain through a muslin and decant into sterilised bottles
Can be served on its own over ice, topped with soda water and a wedge of lime or in various cocktails!