The sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers of the elder tree appear in abundance in hedgerows, scrub, woodlands and wasteland at the beginning of the summer. Our Sous-Chef, Kevin, who is a keen forager, always looking for something edible in the hedgerow, has been busy harvesting some elderflower, and after working his magic, these creamy-white flowers have now been transformed into a terrific, aromatic cordial & champagne. Tips to forage elderflower: The season is short, about six weeks or so, so get out there & start foraging. When foraging for elderflower, do not take more than a few heads from each bush. This ensures that there are enough flowers remaining to allow the bush to thrive. Pick flowers that are at their best. Gather on a warm, dry day (never when wet), checking the perfume is fresh & pleasing. You will need about 30 heads to make a decent batch of elderflower cordial or champagne. INGREDIENTS: Makes about 2 litres
About 25 elderflower heads
Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
1 kg sugar
1 heaped tsp citric acid (optional)
METHOD: Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest. Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflower and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse. Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using). Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.