From dandelions to elderflowers

Our site stats continue to show that our Dear Reader is still interested in dandelion jelly so here is another recipe using the natural produce from Kent, the Garden of England.

The hedgerows are burgeoning with blossom, so armed with
a troop of tallish teenagers we ventured out to pick elderflowers – bribery once again being employed, with tales told of my aunt’s delicious recipe for elderflower champagne. As auntie’s champagne wouldn’t pass current EU regulations and none of the teenagers are old enough; cordial it will have to be, but never mind, mission accomplished, I now had a couple of baskets of elderflower heads albeit with slightly grumpy teenagers having realised too late that they have been duped.

We followed Hugh F-W’s recipe with a little help from Mrs Beeton
as well, just to check that Hugh was on the right lines, and within twenty four
hours a rather dubious looking liquid was transformed into a wonderful smelling
cordial – the exact smell of the flowers only more so, if you know what I mean.

The recipe is as follows:

20-30 heads of elderflowers (steep overnight in just enough
boiling water to cover), strain.

Zest of 2 lemons & 1 orange

Up to 200ml lemon juice

Up to 1.5 kg sugar

To every 500ml strained liquid add 350g sugar & boil to
dissolve the sugar. Cool, strain & use. Dilute to taste approx 5:1 ratio.

The scent is lovely, the colour a pale lemon green but the  cordial is way too sweet for our taste. As Hugh’s recipe is similar to Mrs B’s  ancient recipe, I am assuming that the high sugar content is utilised for its  preservative properties and that is all but unnecessary today now that refrigeration can be used to extend longevity of food items.  I suggest reducing the sugar to 275g per 500ml liquid and freezing the cordial in ice cube trays or in ¾ filled plastic squash bottles and then using as required.

When serving the cordial, do as the French do with their citrons pressés and provide sugar on the side to be added according to individual taste – so much more stylish & fun with a tall glass and knickerbocker glory spoon!

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