The Taste of Summer

Making elderflower cordial

The first real smell of Spring for me is hawthorn. I love the sweetness, the smell of promises of Summer. Just after comes the blackthorn, then the hedges are full of elderflower, now smelling of heady Summers.

It doesn’t last long, so you need to be quick collecting the flowerheads for cordial. I would like to make elderflower champagne as well, but that will have to be next year.

Collect when it’s been dry for a few days and the pollen is high, and pick only what you need, saving some on the trees for berries later, and of course for our friends the bees.

I like to pick off bugs as I pick the blossom, and I also pick off as much of the green stem as possible and soak the flowers in a pan of cold water overnight before starting the syrup – there will be bugs. I suppose it adds protein.

I like to use this recipe from the River Cottage. I don’t add citric acid – there’s probably enough acid from the fruit and enough sugar to preserve it if kept in the fridge, and anyway it doesn’t last very long unless you are very disciplined.

Happy Summer Solstice!