Urban Harvest No.1 (Elderflower)

We’ve gone elderflower crazy at my house. It looks like I’ve sprung a dozen leaks in the ceiling, so many bowls are there perched on every flat surface. But once I shared my newly brewed elderflower cordial with my pals, you see, they all wanted a bottle too. Be warned.
It’s one of the sure signs of summer, the cutesy white blooms of the elderflower. They’re everywhere, on countryside walks and brightening surburban gardens. Always being a great believer in greedily harvesting whatever happens to be free, I hit the golden cobbles of Eccles with my recycled carrier bags to get me some of this bounty.
Half an hour of park life later, and I had four great bagfuls of blooms. If you live in the UK, and would like to know where elderflowers might be growing near you, here’s a tip; take a great big stone, and throw it. Where it lands, there’ll be elderflower. (There was even a trio of elderflower trees in one corner of the church graveyard. I left those well alone though, call me sqeamish.)
The fragrant muscadet flavour of this gorgeous cordial works well in summer drinks, perhaps with posh water over ice, or even turned into a sorbet. In the later months of the year, it’s supposed to make a good warm tonic – we’ll all have to wait until we catch colds to see if that’s true.
Back in the kitchen, I scrubbed up, shook the various wildlife from the elderflowers into the garden, gave it a convincing rinse under the tap, and gathered my cunningly aforeprepared ingredients. You’re cordially invited to do the same:
6 pints (about 3 litres) of boiling water
2lb (900g) of caster sugar
1 packet of citric acid (I got mine from the local chemists)
2 unwaxed oranges
3 unwaxed lemons
I’ve used itallics on unwaxed there. This is a shorthand way of saying that bog-standard citrus simply won’t do.
To make, simply put the sugar in a huge bowl, and pour the boiling water over, giving it a stir to dissolve. When it’s cooled, add the citric acid, the sliced-up citrus fruits, and the magic elderflowers. Steep the lot for 24-hours, strain through muslin or any other tight-mesh strainer, and bottle.
It’s that easy.
All I need now is some nice alcoholic recipes for my cordial (I think something with vodka would work, and some fizz of some sort…) If you have any ideas for it, feel free to share.
For my next urban harvest, I shall be reaping nettles!
(I adapted my cordial recipe from this page at the BBC.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s