The first recipe I ever blogged about was how to make Elderflower cordial. It was the beginning of my love affair with foraging and I vowed to make it an annual tradition. In reality it’s taken me 4 years to repeat the recipe and I have the very late flowering season in June to thank for that. On a roasting hot day my friend M and I ended up plastered in yellow pollen picking the heavily scented flowers from an elderflower tree outside a derelict pub while her husband H kept E cool with ice pops.
You’d think I’d know how important it is to follow a recipe when making Elderflower cordial for only the second time? I started out quite well adding an appropriate amount of water for the bags and bags of flower heads we’d gathered. I was pleased as punch with the two 10 litre wine buckets of flowery stew sitting in the kitchen. But then it dawned on me … cripes, how many extra bottles, lemons and bags of sugar? Oh dear, my ‘I love preserving’ bubble burst just a little.
The elderflowers were brilliantly potent but my codial definitely lacked the tang of an appropriate number of lemons. The cordial was rescued by the addition of two entire bottles of lemon juice and a small supply of citric acid from a friend (which I’d not been able to find anywhere in Gloucester for love nor money). I freeze my cordial in small plastic bottles to keep it for longer and reduce the chance of it going off if not sealed well enough. All in all it was a timely reminder of why I don’t make preserves much anymore – even just debugging the flower heads took a couple of hours and these days I often end up bodging a save when I realise my culinary brain isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be.
When he woke up E found the rejected flower heads fascinating and played with them for a good hour or more. So a more successful foraging endeavour than I first thought!
2018 update: it took 5 years to make elderflower cordial again, this time with a different toddler!