Everywhere in the countryside during late May into June, you will see an abundance of these creamy flowers, like little wedding bouquets, clustered upon the branches of the Elder tree.
As you approach them (especially in the sunshine) you will almost certainly smell their heady perfume; a cross between new mown hay and crushed grapes !
Pick them, steep them in a hot syrup and behold the mouth-watering floral notes of Muscatel grapes and lemon.
If you have tasted and enjoyed the shop-bought Elderflower pressé, then making your own cordial could not be more simple – and the result of course will be far superior.
Collect freshly blossoming ‘heads’ from these flowers from trees away from busy roads to avoid any pollution and degradation of flavour. Look for brilliant creamy-white specimens that are fully open and not dull or dying back.
You will need a large bowl (preferably ceramic), some clean muslin, a funnel and 3 x clean 750ml bottles that you can seal.
- Collect 20 large, fresh Elderflower ‘heads’
- 2 unwaxed or lightly scrubbed Lemons
- 1.2 Litres water
- 1.8 Kg Sugar
- 75g powdered Citric Acid
- Shake the flowers to remove any hiding bugs(!) and snip off any excess stalks and place in the large bowl. Do not wash them.
- Use a swivel peeler to remove all the lemon zest in strips, then slice the lemons thinly into about 8-10 slices and mix with the Elder flowers.
- Place the water and sugar into a large enough pan over high heat, stirring from time to time to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup comes to a boil, let it continue for about a minute, then pour onto the flowers and lemon slices.
- Stir well, then add the powdered citric acid, stirring well again. Cover with a T-towel and leave overnight to marinate (or for at least 15 hours).
- Pour the contents through a coarse sieve into another bowl to catch the flowers & lemon, pressing down on the contents to extract as much syrup as possible.
- Finally, pour the syrup through a funnel lined with dampened double muslin directly into your clean bottles and cork or seal. Keep bottles in a dark, cool place or a refrigerator.
- Enjoy with flat or sparkling water or mix with chilled dry white wine for a super aperitif. You can also pour some syrup over fresh berries with ice cream as a Summery dessert.