Meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but the late Spring does mean that even in July, there are still elderflowers to be foraged, especially in urban areas. Make the most of the gorgeous summer mornings and go out early to collect 25 blossom heads. Choose creamy white ones, not the dark yellow ones that, ahem, have a slight scent of tomcat… they’ve gone over and won’t give you the delicate flavour you want.
Get your flowers home, and set aside whilst you make the syrup. Measure out 900g caster sugar into a large pan. Add the grated zest of 3 lemons and 1.7 litres of boiling water. Put on a low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil and take off the heat. Meanwhile, give your elderflower heads a quick shake to dislodge any passengers, snap off the thick main stalk (the thinner green stalks can be left on), and dip quickly in a bowl of clean cold water to remove any dust. Put the flowers in a large bowl, and add 50g of citric acid (available online, and from some supermarkets). If you haven’t got access to citric acid, squeeze the juice of 3 lemons over the flowers. Pour over the hot sugar syrup, give it a good stir, cover with clingfilm and leave the whole lot to steep for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Makes the house smell heavenly!
Give the liquid a quick taste – you may want to add a little more lemon or sugar to taste – but it is meant to be diluted, so don’t fret if it seems too sweet. Strain through muslin or a fine sieve and bottle in clean, sterilized bottles. Label and admire.
A fine use for Elderflower cordial, is to add a dash to your gin and tonic, makes a rather delicious summer cocktail….