While my husband was away on a stag weekend in Wales I had a lovely time at home. I tended to my tomato plants, bought a new ‘Dark Opal’ variety at the garden centre, played enthusiastically with my daughter and spent quite a long time reading about trauma on the interweb. On Sunday we walked on the downs, stopping to collect a load of elderflower heads in our last dog poo bag. I spent the remainder of the walk hoping Oscar wouldn’t defecate again, but I was happy with our hoard, and happier to have managed to get S to enjoy a long walk. We stopped to collect buttercups and flowering clover, to admire cornflowers, tiny peas, butterflies and poppies. There seems to be an unusually large amount of flowers this year, on the trees and in the meadow. I’m trying hard to soak as much of it up as I can for inspiration. I’m a crap gardener, you see, even though I have an enviable amount of growing space. My new neighbour put it nicely the other day. “How long have you lived here for?” She asked.
“About seven years,” I said.
“Oh, really… What is it? A lifetime project?”
Elderflower & Pink Grapefruit Cordial
I’ve messed up before by gathering the flowers and not processing them straight away. This time I was prepared, and I got the flowers steeping in hot sugar syrup within an hour of getting home. It’s not a difficult job and the smell is fantastic. Wait two days and you’re left with a punchy cordial far superior to anything you buy at the supermarket, delicious with gin, vodka or plain old soda water. I have frozen half my batch in ice cube trays, the rest should keep in the fridge for a week or two.
This recipe is adapted from Fiona Bird’s The Forager’s Kitchen. I had a pink grapefruit going wrinkly in the fruit bowl so I used that in place of two lemons, juicing the fruit first in order to give the cordial a more purposeful citrus flavour. I’ve not been too hot at blogging lately but this cordial is impressive enough to compel me to share it at 10pm on a Tuesday evening.
120g elderflower heads (about 30)
Juice and peel of one lemon
Juice of one pink grapefruit
1.5kg granulated sugar
1.2litres boiling water
55g citric acid
Sort the elderflowers into a bowl, shaking off any insects you spy and trimming back long stalks; peel and juice the citrus fruit.
Bring the water to the boil, then add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. Fiona suggests using caster sugar in her recipe but I had no trouble using plain granulated sugar which is considerably cheaper.
Stir in the citric acid to dissolve then pour the hot liquid over the elderflowers, lemon and grapefruit. Cover and leave to steep for two days.
Strain through clean muslin into sterilised jars and/or ice cube trays. Enjoy diluted with water or soda as a refreshing drink or drop a little into a simple G&T or summer fruit punch.