Replenishing my elderflower cordial supplies

Spring is the time for delicate, fragrant elderflowers to begin springing up around the countryside – amongst many other things.

Since we moved out of the city three years ago to a very small town in a rural area, I wouldn’t say we have become more ‘in tune’ with the countryside, but we are certainly more observant and aware of what is growing and when.

So I have now learned to be on the look out for elderflower around the end of October, and in my little rolodex of a brain, I catalog Elderflower trees when we are out and about, remembering them for when I need to go and raid them (like just now for flowers, and around February for berries).

We have an Elderflower tree in our garden, but we cut it right back last year because it was growing in a rather strange, untidy way. This year it has had the grand total sum of four flower heads on it, so… not exactly going to make a year’s worth of cordial with that measly amount!

I made Elderflower cordial and Elderflower champagne last year – but the cordial was the real hit! I serve a dash of cordial in sparkling wine, and it’s refreshing, perfumed and oh-so-sophisticated! (WARNING: grand visions of playing croquet on the lawn, dressed to the nines Downton Abbey-style, being served by suited wait staff come to mind when drinking this). Not to mention the vaguely smug feeling I always get from using something I have made from something I have grown…

So, for Elderflower Cordial you will need:

20 Elderflower heads (if you can pick them when they have just opened, they will be at their best)
4 cups caster sugar
1.5 litres of boiling water
2 lemons (sliced)
1 orange (sliced)
50gm citric acid

1) Gently wash the Elderflower heads to remove any dirt and bugs.

2) Place the sugar in a pot and pour the boiling water on top. Give it a good stir, and leave to cool down a bit.

3) Add the fruit, flowers, and citric acid, and give a gentle stir. (If you are a little hasty, as I was, and add the flower to the water before it cools, it turns the flowers brown – which apparently effects the flavor of the syrup… but I can’t taste it!)

4) Leave it for 24 hours in a cool spot – give it a gentle stir when you remember.

Elderflower cordial
Elderflower flowers steeping in water, sugar and citric acid

5) After 24 hours strain the cordial through fine muslin cloth (this will get the remaining bugs out), and then bottle in sterilized bottles with a tight fitting lid (I used bottles my husband has for making homebrew, which are absolutely perfect – except for being brown glass, so you can’t really see what’s inside).

Straining Elderflower Cordial
Straining the flowers (and bugs) out of the cordial

I doubled the recipe this time and ended up with five 750ml bottles with a bit left over – just perfect for sampling with glass of good New Zealand sparkling wine, out on the deck on a warm spring afternoon.

Once you open a bottle of cordial it pays to keep it in the fridge. I’m not really sure how long the unopened bottles would last for, as in our house they don’t have much of a chance to stay unopened!!

Elderflower cordial
Cordial made – it’s time to celebrate!

Broad bean bonanza – a spring salad

With yet more broad beans to use up, I spied this delicious sounding recipe for a Broad Bean and Orzo
Salad. Yum!

I served the salad with salmon, baked with a crust of the remaining pesto left over from the salad.

image

Just a quick note regarding the salad – I made my own basil pesto to use for the salad dressing (pesto, olive oil and lemon juice) because I just happened to have the ingredients to hand. I whizzed the pesto ingredients up in my blender which has been well-loved over the years (and in all honesty has probably seen better days) and doesn’t particularly like whizzing things to a ‘fine’ anything… but as I often find with cooking, this was rather serendipitous. The chunky, nutty texture of the ‘pesto’, once stirred through the salad, meant that another layer was added to the mix of flavours and textures in the salad, and it really worked well.

I even had a bit of the salad left over that I had for my lunch the next day, and it had kept surprisingly well (hadn’t turned limp and soggy as most salads do after a night in the fridge). I will be making this again, and using a chunky nutty pesto will be a must!

Return of the lazy blogger

Having quit my job last month, I would have thought I’d have MORE time to blog, but it’s been the total opposite! I’ve been pretty much offline for the last six weeks or so (mostly spent spring cleaning – spring is FINALLY here, asparagus is in the shops – HOORAY!), and it has been surprisingly enjoyable… but I have missed reading all my favourite blogs and I’m looking forward to catching up on what people have been up to, and what people have been baking, cooking, growing, eating and thinking.

And I’m starting my new job on Monday, so I should be back to blogging with a vengeance! Anything to distract me from what REALLY needs to be done, right…?!