Elderflower time!

I can’t believe it’s May already. I meant to write an article for the blog earlier this month when the Blackthorn was looking absolutely fantastic – cold winters sometimes lead to an extra special spring. I was walking Charlie in flip flops because of the unusually warm April weather with Blackthorn blossom falling like confetti – and then back came winter again and I was back in wellies!

Anyway Hawthorn’s now been and virtually gone – and we’re onto Elder with Dog Rose to come. I just love how the species in a mixed native hedge give such a long flowering season. Elder produces a particularly spectacular blossom – wide flat flower heads with hundreds of tiny little individual flowers.

Elder hedge in blossom

There are loads of recipes on the internet for Elderflower drinks but I thought this one by Sophie Grigson was the simplest.

20 heads of elderflower
1.8kg of granulated sugar or castor sugar
1.2 litres of water
2 unwaxed lemons
75g citric acid

Shake the flowers to get rid of any little beasties and put in a large bowl.
Put the sugar in a pan with the water and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.
While the sugar syrup is heating up, pare the zest of the lemons in wide strips and put in the bowl with the flowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the flowers and zest. Pour over the boiling syrup (carefully!) and stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new J cloth rinsed out in boiling water) and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles.

Serve chilled, as a treat on a gardening day, when your back tells you it’s had enough!