Norfolk’s elderflower bushes put up their parasols last weekend - they arrived about 3 weeks late this year, but better late than never: they were gigantic, frothy flying saucers, their champagne notes effervescent in the air. The BSG had been so keen to get cutting and steeping on our previous visit that the kitchen cupboard was already stocked with citric acid, which had been easily procured from the chemist’s. Armed with a pilfered wire supermarket basket – how embarrassing - we perused the green aisles, selecting only the most pristine, untainted chandeliers.
Elderflower cordial – makes one and a half litres
- 20 heads of elderflower
- 1.8kg caster sugar
- 1.2 litres water, boiled
- 2 unwaxed lemons*
- 75g citric acid
1. Put the sugar into a large mixing bowl, covering with freshly boiled water and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2. Gently shake the elderflower heads to evict stubborn residents, and then place into the bowl.
3. 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, then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
4. Remove the larger contents and then strain through a muslin cloth or very fine sieve and bottle. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks after opening.
As well as being a refreshing summer drink mixed with still or sparking water it’s a wonderful infusion for pannacotta, fool, yoghurt and ice-cream.
If I could find a gooseberry, they go very well together too – but I can’t. They’re selling them in Morrison’s in High Wycombe apparently, so says my first class girl on the ground.
*it may well yield unmentionably disgusting results, but I am going to try adding cucumbers in like the lemons, in homage to the ‘grown-up’ soft drink of the eighties, Aqua Libra. I loved it. But I was clearly in the minority.