The elderflower comes into season twice a year, the blossoms in early summer and the berries in autumn. The white flowers that line our hedgerows from late May to mid June indicate the start of summer. Pick it early in the morning when the blooms are freshest and avoid the yellowy, older leaves that have a wiff of cat pee. We’re turning our pickings into pickles and cordials as well as our elderflower vinegar and sugar. Our most popular soft drink is our home made elderflower cordial served with mint and sparkling water. This year we’re planning our biggest batch yet, foraged from the Oxfordshire hedgerows to ensure that our home brew is all we serve.
ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL RECIPE
2½ kg white sugar
2 unwaxed lemons
20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
85g citric acid (from chemist)
Put the sugar, 1.5 litres water into your largest saucepan. Gently heat without boiling, until sugar has dissolved. Stirring now and again. Remove the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
Once sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.