I have long harboured dreams of living the perfect ‘Good Life’; growing my own fruit and vegetables and creating delicious jams and chutneys using the fruits of my labour. The truth, however, is that I can just about keep shop-bought herbs alive on my kitchen window sill!
The good news? You don’t even need a garden for this recipe, just a bucket, some scissors and some elder trees. The best months to pick elderflowers are May and June but you may still be able to get your hands on some this month. Here’s what the flowers look like.
Before I start sounding too smug, I’ll let you into a secret; I was completely clueless as to what the actual flowers looked like or where to find them. As luck would have it, our very own Lisa’s lovely husband James had made elderflower champagne for their wedding last summer (I know….how romantic can you get?!) and let me tag along with him to see what we could find this time. It was just as well really, being only 5″3 meant that there were a lot of flowers out of my reach!
We found our elder trees growing on our local towpath and went on a dry morning. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday!
Once I’d collected about 20 heads I was ready to go. So here’s what you need;
- 20 elderflower heads
- 1.5l water
- 2.5kg caster sugar
- 2 lemons
- 2 oranges
- 1 tsp citric acid
First off, fill a basin with cold water and place your flower heads in it for a few minutes, giving it a gentle swish to remove any creepy crawlies (ugh!) or dirt, remove and leave on a tea towel to dry.
Put the sugar and and water into a large pot and heat until all the sugar has dissolved, stirring as you go. Bring to the boil once the sugar has dissolved.
Zest the lemons and oranges and then cut them into rounds, take the syrup off the heat and add these to the syrup mixture.
Now add the elderflower heads and the citric acid, cover your pot and sit back and wait for it to infuse. How lovely does this part look?
Once you have infused the mixture strain it through a clean tea towel into a clean bottle (I used a funnel which made things a lot easier).
Simply dilute with water for a refreshing summer drink or use as a syrup in deserts. I’m going to add mine to a gin and tonic…mmm!