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It's that time of year again, when foragers delight in the abundant blooms of Elderflower, easy to spot in woods and along hedgerows with its frothy cream coloured head of flowers. They're wonderfully fresh and fragrant - and to top it off, free!
When you go foraging, aim for a dry sunny morning to get there before the insects take their pale yellow pollen. Pick flowers from at least waist height and higher, avoiding any low hanging flowers and snip off the heads taking as little stalk as possible, this way you wont damage the plant. Check that they still smell sweet and then carry them home in a large bag.
One of the most popular and refreshing ways to use Elderflower is to make a cordial. The cordial itself can then be used with sparkling water, or in cocktails, it's also lovely with Champagne and even as a tea!
Elderflower Cordial Recipe
15 Elderflower florets
300g sugar (or equivalent amount of maple or agave syrup)
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
1L filtered water
15 lemon balm leaves
Before using the Elderflower, pick off any insects but don't run the flowers under the tap or you'll wash the natural yeasts off.
Boil the sugar in 1L of water until it dissolves and thickens to make a syrup. Place the Elderflower, lemon balm leaves and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and add your sugar syrup.
Allow your Elderflower mixture to cool to room temperature, then add the lemon juice, cover and leave overnight.
The next day, strain through a muslin over a large bowl (lining a fine sieve with the muslin can help with this part).
You now have your Elderflower Cordial! Store refrigerated in sterilised bottles and they'll keep for around 3-4 weeks.
To make as a base for lemonade, use 1 part cordial and 4 parts sparkling water. For a hot herbal infusion add 3 tbsp of cordial per mug or my favourite - pour the cordial undiluted into moulds and freeze for an hour.
Jenya Di Pierro
Herbal Medicine Practitioner, BA, MA, AMH, ANP
Tags: Recipe | Author: Jenya Di Pierro, Herbalist & Naturopath