Monday, 2 July 2012

Not just for summer

As well as being interested in vegetable and fruit growing I have become increasingly concerned with preserving and transforming these natural treats into goodies that can be enjoyed throughout the whole year.  Loving Elderflower cordial I made a promise with myself to pick and make some this year.  I had been waiting since May to find a plentiful and not by the road side bounty of Elderflower.  These two tips are important, fumes from the road can damage and toxify the delicate floral notes of this flower and also it is wise to pick from trees that are bountiful in flowers so that your foraging will not compromise its future growth.
Having satisfied these criteria I spent a good hour shaking and picking of all the bugs.  Some may find this tedious – this is where I know I have weird OCD type behaviour because I just love the preparation of food: music, my own thoughts, knowing that this care and effort is going to lead to something delicious that can be shared with friends and family - couldn’t be better.  There are various recipes that can be found, most say that you require citric acid so off I went to various Chemists, without any luck – and quite frankly probably being logged as a drug addict.  Citric Acid apparently is used for the mixing and consumption of illegal drugs.  However did my research and found this recipe which uses lemons,  it worked brilliantly:
10 large elderflower heads
900g granulated sugar
600ml litres water
2 lemons

Pick off any insects and beasties you see on the flowers.

Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Strip large ribbons of zest off the lemons with a vegetable peeler, lose the knobbly ends, then slice the lemon and place in a large bowl with the elderflower heads.

Pour the hot syrup over the lemons and elderflower heads and give it a good stir. Cover the bowl with a cloth or a big plate and leave it for 24 – 48 hours. (the longer you leave the more floral notes will be achieved)

Strain the mixture with muslin or kitchen paper in a sieve and pour into sterilized bottles. I used a couple of small glass ones for the fridge which should be used within a month and a small plastic bottles for the freezer for future use.

Apart from using it as a drink with soda water for day and the addition of a shot of gin at night, I'm looking forward to using this long after the summer has gone.

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