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Friday, 22 May 2009

Elderflowers

I have a self set elderflower tree in the bottom of the garden - its too high to gather the blossoms but they are just starting to bloom. I love elderflower champagne and elderflower cordial and this year I intend to make the most of this very useful plant. Always ask permission of the tree for sharing her blossoms with you. It is disrespectful not to. And never over-pick a tree - remember to leave some so that they form elderberries for autumn and give yourself and the birds a feast.

Here are the recipes I intend to use.

Elderflower vinegar

This is highly scented so use with caution.

Fresh elderflower florets
White wine vinegar.

Pick elderflowers when they are fully open and check to remove any insects. Remove the flowers from their stalks and place them in jars making sure that they are gently pressed down in the jar. Fill the jar to the top with the vinegar. Put on lid. Stand on a sunny windowsill for a couple of weeks until the vinegar is flavoured to your taste. If not strong enough add some fresh elderflowers. When to your liking put through a jelly bag to remove the florets. Bottle in sterilised bottles.

Use in the making of sauces and salad dressings.

Elderflower Wine Using Fresh flowers

1 pint flower tips
3lb sugar
1/3 pint white grape concentrate
7 pints of water
1 teaspoon grape tannin
3 lemons
Yeast and Nutrient

The flowers should be picked on a sunny day so that they are fully open. Remove from stems by trimming with a pair of scissors until you have a pint of flowers. Boil the water and pour this on to the flower florets, adding sugar, concentrate and the lemon juice at the same time. When cooled to room temperature add the tannin, yeast and nutrient. Leave covered in a warm place for 5 days before straining through a jelly bag and then decanting into a demijohn. Fit an air lock and leave to ferment out. Rack to take off sediment after wine clears and then again 6 weeks later. Bottle.

I must say I am quite partial to Elderflower wine it is one of my favourites.

Elderflower Cordial

Makes about 3 pints or so

10 large elderflower heads
2lb sugar
2 lemons washed and sliced
1 oz tartaric acid
4 pints boiling water.

Place all the ingredients into a bowl. Cover and leave for 24 hours stirring every so often.

Strain the cordial through muslin and then pour into sterilised bottles, to within 1 1 1/2 inches of the top if using corks or under 1 inch if screw caps; this leaves room for expansion when the liquid is heated. seal and then sterilise by placing in a deep pan in which the bottom is padded out with thick newspaper and between the bottles. Fill to the base of the corks caps or stoppers with warm water then raise to simmering point and maintain this temperature for at least 20 minutes (if you have a thermometer maintain 77 degrees C or 170 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the bottles. If using corks you then need to seal the corks in wax as soon as the bottles are cold and the corks dry. The bottles can be wrapped on the exterior with brown paper to stop the loss of colour in the preserve.

To use pour in some of the syrup into a glass and dilute to taste (add more if not enough) add sparkling mineral water and ice cubes. Very refreshing. Once the bottle is open store in the fridge.

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