Respect Your Elders

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Rejoice, it’s elderflower season! Or it would be at least if it ever stopped raining.  For the one time you don’t want to be picking elderflowers is when they are wet.  But, assuming you can find a dry day or two, make sure you get out and pick some fragrant elderflower (ideally just as the buds are beginning to open) because it complements many gins wonderfully.  You can make a cordial or gin (as below) but make sure you get working as quickly as possible as the elderflowers will start to turn brown within just a few hours of picking.

Elderflower cordial

Remove the flowers from the stalks of approximately 25 elderflower heads and check for insects.  Place the elderflowers in a bowl with the grated zest of 3 lemons and 1 orange and cover with 1.5 litres of boiling water.  Leave to steep overnight.

The following day carefully strain the liquid and add the lemon and orange juice and 1kg of caster sugar.  Heat to dissolve the sugar and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Sterilise your  bottles by first washing them, then placing them on a baking sheet in an oven at 140C/130c fan/gas mark 1 until completely dry.  This is a perfect use for any old gin bottles you have been unable to part with but beware any bottles with wax seals as they will melt!  If you’re using bottles or Kilner jars with rubber seals be sure to boil the seals as the dry heat will damage them.  Pour the hot liquid into the sterilised bottles and leave to cool.  Store in the fridge.

Elderflower gin

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Again, remove the flowers from the stalks of the elderflower heads and fill your sterilised jar.  Cover to the top with a good quality gin  (I used Sipsmith).  Place some lemon peel on top to submerge the flowers.  Store the sealed jar in a dark place and shake daily.  After 5 days strain the liquid.  Make a sugar syrup by combining equal measures of sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat.  Warm the mixture until the sugar dissolves and allow to cool before adding it to your gin to taste.

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If that all sounds like too much bother Bottlegreen and Belvoir make excellent cordials. Or if you’re looking for something stronger you could do worse than invest in a bottle of Warner Edwards Elderflower Gin or Edinburgh Gin‘s Elderflower Liqueur!

Elderflower cocktail

A measure of elderflower gin topped up with prosecco is a wonderful thing. As is a drop of elderflower cordial added to your G&T (my preference would be Bloom).  But if you fancy something fancier try this Elderflower Collins: squeeze two lemon wedges into a tall glass and fill with ice.  Pour in 50ml of gin, 15ml of elderflower cordial and top up with San Pellegrino limonata.  Garnish with lemon and mint, relax and enjoy!

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