18 June, 2008


On a sunny summer evening, the girls and I went foraging in the top field above the barn for elderflowers. If this all sounds terribly poetic, I should add that there were banks of nettles to be avoided, Charlotte screamed a lot and then sat down in a stream which made the screams even louder. Still it was a rural idyll if you turned the sound down.

The elderflowers are in full bloom and stunning up close.

So 20-30 heads later - that's what HF-W says but I lost count...

Elderflowers are, in my opinion, rather more lovely than the elderberry. They have a wonderful fine flavour that goes particularly well with gooseberries. However I don't have any gooseberries yet and as a total preserving novice, I started small and easy.

Elderflower cordial (recipe from The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

20-30 freshly picked heads of elderflower
zest of 2 lemons and 1 orange
up to 1.5 kg granulated or caster sugar
up to 200 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (3-5 lemons depending on juiciness)
tartaric acid (optional)

Shake any insects off the elderflowers, then place them in a large bowl with the lemon and orange zest and pour over enough just-boiled water to cover them completely (about 1.5 to 2 litres). Cover and leave for at least 4 hours, or overnight, until cold.

Strain the liquid through muslin, a clean cotton cloth or a jelly bag, gently squeezing it to extract all the juice. Measure the amount of liquid and pour it into a saucepan. To every 500ml liquid, add 350g sugar, 50ml lemon juice and a heaped teaspoon of tartaric acid if you are using it. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Bring to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum. Let the cordial cool, then strain once again through muslin, cotton or a jelly bag.

Pour the cordial through a funnel into clean bottles, filling them to within about 2-3 cm of the top. Seal the bottles with screw-tops or corks. (Alternatively you can freeze it in small plastic containers.)

To serve, dilute to taste with ice-cold water - at least 5:1 water to cordial.

I didn't use tartaric acid. Do you have moments when you look at a recipe and think "not only do I not have that, I don't know what it is or where to get it?" So, I have frozen some and put some in the fridge. Now I feel inspired to head off back up the hill and make jelly, sorbets, sauces and maybe even fritters.


GardenGirl said...

Is tartaric acid the same as cream of tartar? Which you can get in the baking section of the supermarket, by the baking soda and baking power (in a similar tub too).

Who knows... I bet google does!

Eliane said...

I wondered that as I already have some cream of tartar but I think tartaric acid is a liquid that home brewers use. I think I should get some.