Thursday, 25 June 2009

Summer in a glass



Take one lovely fellow blogger (Emma), a bucket, a pair of secateurs and some sunshine. Add to this the now obligatory jam doughnuts and drinks that accompany our little jaunts (this is by no means compulsory but advisory).


(Emma and her bucket)


Set out on a summer's morning with purpose in your stride and laughter in your hearts.
Fill the said bucket with the whitest, sweetest elderflower heads available. At this point, speaking from experience, we would advise the wearing of long trousers to avoid the masses of nettles that seem to protect every single elderflower bush we stumbled upon and the carrying of a stick/set of ladders (which fit neatly into your bag) to compensate for your lack of height and the fact that all the best blooms are as high up as a mountain top!



Stop for a while to eat the aforementioned doughnut, sip the shop bought elderflower cordial you brought along knowing that tomorrow you'll be sipping your very own brew.



Stagger up the hillside and stop to admire the many butterflies and wild orchids (again, this is obligatory as it adds to the sweetness of your drink). Spend a lot of time wishing you could make headdresses from elderflowers, garlands and wedding bouquets and wanting to live in the 1930s...



Arrive home and put the kettle on. Take cup of tea out into the garden and give those elderflower heads a good shake, Remember to count each head to ensure you use the right amount of ingredients, in our case things got so complicated that we almost wished for a calculator but thankfully help was at hand when we reread this wonderful recipe here, , thank heavens for imperial measures, it was all getting very confusing when we were dealing in kilos of sugar.



Into a large old preserving pan (preferably your mother's - thank you Mother of Mrs Sew Recycled) add enough sugar to rot entire family's teeth and those of any guests who happen to call. Add water and bring to boil whilst stirring.
Just when you feel your arm's going to drop off from all that stirring add flower heads (then scoop them out again as you have forgotten to remove acres of woody stem), lovely lemons and gold dust (I mean citric acid - it seems that you might be able to get your hands on some of this just in time for next year's harvest as there is apparently a national shortage, failing that, for a nominal fee I will reveal my source (!!!).



Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 24 hours. During this time you might feel it necessary to stand in various corners of the kitchen sniffing the air as we did trying to work out whether we could smell cat's pee, lemon or somewhere the scent of elderflower ...
Return home and anxiously await phone call from friend to tell you that, yes, there is a distinct whiff of elderflower in the air.
Next day on return to friend's house stop off at baker's to buy some cake (just to enhance the flavour of the cordial you understand, but seriously contemplate any further visit to local baker's in disguise once you realise just how often you pop in there).



Arrive at friend's house, Put kettle on, have tea, eat cake and chat.
Momentarily forget why you are there and chat some more. An hour or so later, remember the reason for visit. Take bottles, try desperately once more to remove dried up orange juice that are in them, friend will hopefully mention foolproof plan of bicarb, rice and boiling water to do the trick.
Slowly begin to strain the brew into bottles and avoid sticking to everything you come into contact with as the liquid is just SO SWEET AND STICKY. Halfway through, have minor panic that cordial may just taste of cat's pee and/or you have discovered some kind of magic elixir as the pan shows no sign of emptying. Rummage around kitchen emptying bottles as you go to use for cordial. Half an hour later wonder at the vat of cordial that's on the worktop and think perhaps there really was no need to double all the ingredients.



Wash hands, wash worktop, wash floor, wash skirt, wash everything that has come into contact with this sugary delight. Take a bottle of fizzy spring water that your friend has just had delivered, dilute cordial and pour into glass.



Take into garden, spend a lot of time sniffing and giggling and have your first sip - summer in a glass, I promise.
After a few glasses convince yourself it's fermented and that you are now just a tad worse for wear, remember that of course it hasn't and it's just all those bubbles.
Return to kitchen, view once again all those bottles and wonder just how much you can drink ...
Lightbulb moment when you remember that all you lovely bloggers are full of culinary ideas and decide to ask for help. If you know of any way of using elderflower cordial, please leave a comment. There will of course be a winner, a snifter of our elderflower sunshine, some summer goodies will be posted off to you and Emma and I will have fun tasting all your recipes - sounds like a good idea ...

44 comments:

Vintage to Victorian said...

So many people love elderflower cordial but me? I hate the taste!! I love the smell of the flowers on the trees, but turn them into cordial and I run a mile. I wonder if I'm the only one. Apologies for the negativity - the blogpost itself was great, but I don't want to win! Hee hee

Sue x

sweetmyrtle said...

what a wonderfully descriptive post and a wonderful time the two of you have spent on your elderflower adventure... i felt like i was there with you... what a giggle! when we recently visited 'pebble-dash' diana, we had some of her last years elderflower cordial... i believe she had frozen it.
xx

dottycookie said...

Gooseberry and elderflower cake - I posted a recipe last summer but it's basically a Victoria sponge with some elderflower cordial instead of vanilla, and then filled with gooseberry jam, and cream whipped with a drop more elderflower. Mmmmmmm - it's based on a Nigella recipe but she makes gooseberry fool and I am far too lazy. Also very similar to the one they sell in Badgers!

Sew Recycled said...

Thankyou my dear for a fantastic couple of days! I am still high on fizz, fuzz,scent...? Tee Hee! It was fun! Looking forward to all the ways we can use it!
Ciao bella! xx

April said...

sounds like you had fun!

April xx

driftwood said...

ooh delicious, and what fun, a real foraging adventure. I was thinking gooseberry fool, but I see Val beat me to it, so I'm going to suggest gooseberry and elderflower sorbet xox

cocoa and blankets said...

That reminds me of being a litle girl, my gran used to make elderflower champagne... it was fizzy and did taste of heaven, it was always a treat and she kept it in big glass lemonade bottles in the pantry...I would love a pantry...both my grans had them..thank you for bring back such happy memories....

Sal said...

I would make a sponge cake of some sort. Then I would prick holes in it and trickle the cordial into the holes...maybe put a lemon icing on top..goodness knows what I am talking about ..this just came into my head! lol

;-)

Garden Girl said...

drizzle over HUGE bowls of strawberries! Mmmm....elderflower cordial and strawberries is the business-failing that, whizz up in a blender with some frozen strawberries and have non alcoholic strawberry elderflower cocktails-children love them as well. Ooh! or add to a cheap bottle of fizzy wine to glam it up a bit....will stop now, promise!!
Glad you had fun, enjoy yourselves with the fruits of your labour!x

A Bun Can Dance said...

Oh Kim, it all sounds so lovely! What a great time you had making cordial and how glorious the pictures are. I used to make elderflower cordial every year, but haven't in the last couple simply because it seems to be tricky getting the citric acid. When I asked our local chemist they said they don't sell it because it is used by heroine addicts !!!! What is the world coming to that NOBODY can buy the 'gold dust' because a few customers are interested in things other than cordial !
Enjoy drinking your way through the gallons of your delicious homemade brew. I don't have any further suggestions than those already mentioned - though I do think there is an ice cream recipe somewhere?
Happy days!
Denise x

Devon Dumpling said...

To suggest something different to what everyone else has already suggested (good ideas by the way!) I would suggest an Eton Mess style dessert using gooseberries macerated with the elderflower syrup instead of strawberries and then whipped cream and merangie (I cannot spell it so gave up!) as normal x

MelMel said...

Sound yum scrummy!

Been lovely again today....

x

Gina said...

I was going to suggest adding it to gooseberry fool or poured over ice cream but I've also heard it makes an excellent salad dressing for courgettes and broad beans- mixed with white wine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil.

nickynackynoo said...

Lovely. I have 10 bottles of cordial in my freezer and 6 bottles of elderflower champagne brewing in the kitchen! Such a lovely time of year.

Thimbleanna said...

Oh, it looks so fun and wonderful Kim! I've never had elderflower cordial -- I don't even think I've ever seen an elderflower -- unless maybe we call it something else?

Rowan said...

What a lovely and inspiring post, the photos are so summery looking. I love elderflower cordial and champagne but have yet to make mine.I've always used elderflower cordial to stop colds in their tracks, made up with hot water and taken at bedtime. I wonder if it would be possible to make a jelly with it? I've never tried but I don't see why it shouldn't be possible.

Rowan said...

I've just Googled and found http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2003/06/06/10577/elderflower-jelly-with-summer-fruits.html recipe. Sounds good to me.

Lisa said...

Such a lovely post. What a wonderful day out you had with your friend and with such a great end result.
So summery.
Lisa x

Susie's country cottage said...

I love elderflower cordial and have been meaning to make some this year as there seems to be an abundance of elderflowers this year but by the time I get around to it the berries will be ready so it will have to be elderberry wine instead!!

Amanda said...

Oh I do so love your posts - they make me sigh with delight!! Tim made us some elderflower cordial (we are blessed by two trees hanging over our garden fence and a massive tree in the churchyard opposite!) He gave some to his mum and sister and kept a huge bottle for us. Unfortunately, just as my parents came to stay and were to try it he dropped the bottle and it smashed all over the floor - you can imagine trying to clean broken glass and sticky cordial off the floor!! The flowers were beginning to disappear but he managed to save some and with a lack of lemons he substituted oranges... haven't tried it yet as he had left it in the airing cupboard (his recipe took much longer than a day!)

As for the use of the cordial - Tim likes it with a bit of gin and sparkling water hehe. I like it with sparkling water, especially of the flavoured kind. And his mum likes it with white wine. Lots of different tastes but such a versatile drink - I love it!

Tabiboo said...

You make it sound soooo romantic! Though I have to agree our first elderflower making episode was pretty much how you described it - without the doughnuts!

Have a lovely weekend,

Nina x

ps. we haven't discovered any other recipes 'yet' that can be used with the cordial, but if I do find one I'll surely let you know.

smilernpb said...

Hi, just come across your blog and the whole elderflower thing sounds very interesting. However, I have never tasted it, so I can't comment on what you should do with it, however I do think this recipe for Apple and Elderflower Cobbler sounds kinda yummy, it's on the BBC Food website, and here is the link : http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/appleandelderflowerc_85238.shtml

Mmm, I love hot puddings with custard!

periwinkle said...

sounds like you had a couple of lovely days - maybe one day I'll get around to making some , enjoy

Cowboys and Custard said...

I can smell that gorgeous syrupy elixir from here...
Great minds think alike.. and I am off to pick some elderflowers for a few bottles of champagne I hope to make today... Keeping son and heir away from it until it ferments is going to be tricky!!

Dx

Tracy said...

Scrumptious...you are enjoy the summer, Kim...just what we like to see! :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Rubyred said...

Hi Kim, what a wonderful post, very summery!
rachel x

Helen said...

Just wonderful!
Love Helen

Melanie said...

How wonderful, I am so going to have to make this, summer in a glass indeed! xxx

Ruth Ann said...

My elderflower bush died a few years ago and I haven't found a source to replace it.

I served it drizzled over homemade pound cake, with fresh strawberries and chantilly cream.

Love in a bowl!

Creative by Nature said...

Another thing I've missed out on, living this side of the Atlantic! I've never tasted elderberry cordial, but wasn't it elderberry wine that the elderly ladies used to poison in "Arsenic and Old Lace"? Loved this entry! It sounds like such fun, wish I could have come along to help gather and then prepare the cordial with you two.

lou said...

Just what I needed one of your beautiful posts Kim; I have still not got around too making it yet.

Have a lovely week-love Lou xxx

Elizabethd said...

How lovely! Gooseberry and elderflower ice cream is gorgeous.

marianne said...

Gin (has to be Hendricks) and tonic. Ooh, and ice of course. Find a spot in the garden glowing in the evening and sun. And...relax. Perfick, absolutley perfick. X

Isabelle said...

I haven't a clue but I enjoyed your description!

Heidi said...

My recipe... seeing as how I have never heard of elderflower cordial ... is take a good ray of sunshine and mix it with friends and family, then pour over a generous glass of elderflower cordial each. How is that? Your day says like it was great fun with or without all that sugar. :-)

Hugs ~
Heidi

Caroline said...

Oooh, my favourite thing on earth! So many gorgeous possibilities spring to mind, over fragrant strawberries, in sparkling white wine ( like a Kir Royal, but different), gooseberry fool, as an ice cream. I am intrigued by the Gin and Tonic idea, have definitely to try that!
This is the first time I visited your blog, how magical it is!

Menopausal musing said...

We decant ours into well rinsed milk containers and freeze it. Had difficulty getting hold of citric acid last year as apparently it has something to do with heroin addicts using it!! Bit unfortunate really, as I didn't know this when standing in Boots The Chemist, muttering: "but I really need it, must have some....". I made gooseberry and elderflower ice cream a few weeks ago. Lovely.

heidi said...

it simply doesn't get better than that.

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Sounds like wonderful fun Kim - and a good excuse to meet up with a good freind twice in two days...perfect.
Enjoy your brew and have one for me...I've never tasted homemade.

Sorry not to have been around for a while - things have been hectic here - hope you are enjoying the summer....sounds like it!!

Have a great weekend,
Niki x

Alison Boon said...

What a delightful time it all sounds, so Enid Blyton. Great fun.

Sara said...

Oh! I'm so jealous! I mean to try this every year and never seem to get around to it. I'm saving a direct link to this post to inspire me next June, as sadly I'm sure I'm too late again for this year :(
Beautiful photos and words, thank you for sharing! x

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shabby chic jenny said...

Elderflower is such an under rated flavouring. Thankfully it is appearing more often on restaurant menus and in stores. It is so quintessentially English, we should be championing it more.

RachelandPa said...

I wonder if someone can help me, my 80 year old father and I are going on an adventure to re-live his youth and make some elderflower pop, he is insistent his mother used to make it with sticky buds to get it fizzy, does anyone have any ideas as I can't see this anywhere?? Thanks