I think it has to be an equal mix of being around Jill Wild a lot as well as a newfound love of the kitchen that led me to making elderflower cordial! Jill always gives the attendees some tips on foraging at Oh Me, Oh My DIY! workshops that I take note of and so on Saturday I set off with Nancy in the afternoon to look for some elderflower. I've tasted homemade elderflower cordial a few times and really wanted to make my own so before we headed out, I did some googling so as not to poison myself by picking something toxic!
Here's the funny part - We drove down towards Kinsale, stopped in a long overgrown lane way and picked some flowers but there was no sign of any elderflower trees. We drove on further, stopped for dinner and then headed back home as it was way past Nancy's bedtime. On the drive back and not too far from my house, I pulled in as I thought I spotted one. Sure enough, it was an elderflower bush. I picked a few and we went home. After I put Nancy to bed, I sat at my laptop to look for a recipe that suited although I wasn't sure I had enough or that it was entirely free of car fumes. I aimlessly gazed out the window at our garden trying to make my decision. It's a long narrow garden with not much going on really but there at the end of the garden is...yeah you guessed it, an elderflower bush!
Did I feel a bit stupid? Yes! Did I waste an evening in Kinsale? No! Myself and Nancy had a lovely, sunny evening finished off with some fish and chips so I don't regret a single thing!
I threw out the elderflower I picked on the way home (it was near a road and ideally you shouldn't pick elderflower that may have been tainted with petrol fumes) and headed into my garden and picked enough to make the cordial.
So with that, here are my elderflower foraging tips and recipe below:
- Apparently elderflower is pretty easy to identify and quite common (maybe have a look in your garden first before you go heading off into the countryside!)
- It's a creamy white flower with leaves that are dark green and have serrated edges and often found in clusters of five.
- They have a strong summery smell and you'll find the smell strongest in the evening.
- If you're not entirely sure what you picked is elderflower, do not eat it! I googled lots and lots of images, info, tips and sent Jill a few photos before I started using it.
- Enjoy it!
20 elderflower heads
Zest of two lemons
2 lemons sliced into rounds
1kg of sugar
1.5 litres of water
Put the water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar in it while stirring gently. Once the sugar has dissolved fully, bring the saucepan of syrup to the boil and then turn off the heat. Wash the elderflower very gently in cold water to remove dirt or bugs. Shake it gently. Place into the saucepan along with the lemon zest and slices and stir gently. Leave to infuse for 24 hours and cover with a tea towel.
Line a colander with a clean muslin cloth and place over a large saucepan or bowl. Spoon in the syrup letting it filter through slowly. Throw out the bits left in the cloth and transfer the syrup to clean glass bottles using a funnel.
Keep in the fridge for up to six weeks.