Hello from the Garden

If Hawthorn is the flower of May, then the Elder is most certainly the flower of June. It’s clusters of creamy white flowers can be seen in the hedgerows and the fields all over the countryside in early June.

The Elder is a valuable shrub for attracting wildlife into the garden. It’s highly scented flowers attract butterflies, bees and other insects in summer, and the dark red/black berries provide food for birds in the autumn. Both the flowers and the berries can be used in the kitchen and today we’re going to learn how to make an Elderflower Cordial, which is a deliciously refreshing drink on a warm summer’s day.

All you need are: some elderflowers, lemons, sugar and water.
Gather enough Elderflowers to fill a l litre (2 pints) glass when tightly packed. Shake the flowers to remove any possible insects, and then place in a saucepan with the zest of a lemon. Cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain through a tea cloth, to extract all the juice.

Measure the amount of juice.
Add 350g (12oz) sugar (about a mug full) and the juice of half a lemon to each 500ml (1 pint) of liquid. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer, skim off any scum. And then let the cordial cool. Pour the liquid into clean sterilized bottles or jars. (Putting them through a dishwasher wash cycle will sterilize them.) Seal the bottles/jars with a lid.
Dilute to taste with still or sparkling water for a refreshing drink. Once bottled, the Cordial will keep in the fridge for several weeks. You can also freeze it for a taste of summer during the winter months. Slainte!