There is something very English about the taste of Elderflower. It has a grassy, floral, citrus flavour similar to sauvignon blanc and it is also delicious with gooseberries, stewed, or in a fool, added to ice-cream or sorbet. You can also infuse the flowers to make a flavoured vinegar. The berries which appear late summer make jelly and can also be used to enrich sauces and casseroles.
You are sure to find it growing on any Common, Park or along a country lane. It is best to try and avoid choosing any near main roads due to pollution.
I use Sophie Grigsons' recipe for the Cordial and find it faultless. The only problem that may occur is a sediment from the yeast collecting but you can filter it into a clean bottle before using. Citric Acid can be bought from Boots or any good Chemist.
20 heads of elderflower 1.8 kg granulated sugar, or caster sugar 1.2 litres water 2 unwaxed lemons 75 g citric acid
1. Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.
2. Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
3. While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
4. 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. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.