Tuesday, 2 June 2015


It's that time of the year again. As Spring seamlessly segues into Summer, the Elder trees are brightening the hedges with their jaunty ivory white floral clouds. At the Urbane Forager project Elderflowers are the first thing we pick in the year. Elder is followed closely by Cherries and then Plums.
We use these citrusy blooms to produce thirst quenching cordial, a perennial favourite with the children and effervescent Champagne which definitely excites the adult pallet.
Both recipes are simple, as long as you pay sufficient attention to two important points.
  • Firstly, the blooms of the Elder smell of bright summer sun in the morning but tend to smell a bit like cat's wee in the evening, so pick them in the morning and process them while still fresh!
  • Secondly, when making fizzy drinks, always use pressure safe bottles! Sparking wine is safely surrounded by 1 Kilogram of glass for a very good reason. We save and sterilize Cava bottles from Christmas and birthday celebrations. We then buy fresh corks and cages to secure our own brew, even then I have to keep a close eye on the proceedings to prevent pressure-washing the kitchen with a Champagne fountain.
Elderflower Cordial - an easy to make summer classic.
  • 3 lemons, sliced 
  • 10 Elderflower heads 
  • 500g sugar 
  • 3L water 
  • 1 Large bowl or saucepan
  • Filter paper or muslin 
  1. Put the sugar in the container and pour over a pint of boiling water. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Then add the remaining 2 litres of cold water and a leave until cold. 
  3. Add the sliced lemons, giving each a good squeeze and then add the elderflower heads. 
  4. Leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour through the muslin or filter paper into bottles.
Refrigerated it will keep for a few weeks. Frozen (in plastic bottles) it will last a lot longer.
Delicious Elderflower Champagne (English Fizz for pedants)
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 7 Large Elderflower heads
  • 500g sugar
  • 6L water
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 Large container
  • Filter paper or muslin (I use a sieve and jelly bag)
  1. First fully dissolve the sugar in a pint of boiling water. 
  2. Then pour the solution into your container and add 5 litres of cold water, followed by the lemon slices (squeezed as you go), Elderflower heads and vinegar.
  3. Cover the mixture and leave for 48 hours, stirring occasionally. 
  4. When ready, filter the mixture (I used a sieve, jelly bag & funnel) into strong bottles (plastic or glass, but able to withstand high pressure), close firmly, and leave.
  5. It is a good idea to release some of the air occasionally to prevent explosions. 
The champagne will be ready in about two weeks. It is alleged to improve with time, but nobody has managed to leave it that long yet...
It's totally delicious!

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