FRUGAL FOODIE: The delicious taste of elderflowers

Elderflowers
Elderflowers

It’s foraging time again. This time it’s elderflowers!

If you haven’t got any in your garden, I bet you’ll find them elsewhere in your local vicinity. Obviously, if it’s on someone else’s land, ask permission first please!

You’ve got a very short opportunity to get these lovely flowers before they go brown, so quickly does it! They make fantastic elderflower cordial and then you can use this to make lots of other delicious recipes.

It’s easy to identify. Look for pale-cream-coloured sprays of flowers from fine florets of green stalks.

They grow on bushes and have a very distinctive smell. If you’ve ever had elderflower cordial, you’ll recognise the smell straight away.

Avoid any brown flowers – they’re not very nice. And wash the flowers thoroughly to remove any bugs! This is my favourite elderflower cordial recipe and you can use this as the base for further recipes.

RECIPE: Elderflower cordial

INGREDIENTS

2.5kg white caster sugar

Approx 20 elderflower heads

80g citric acid

2 lemons

METHOD: Mix the sugar with 1.5 litres of water and, over a gentle heat, gradually dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat. After you have washed and shaken your elderflower heads, add them to the pan. Zest and chop up the lemons and add it all together with the citric acid. Give it a mix and leave for 24 hours to allow the flavours to infuse. When it is ready, line a colander with a clean tea towel or muslin cloth and place it over a pan. Pour the elderflower mixture into it and allow the infused syrup to run into the pan beneath. Sterilise some bottles (I use the dishwasher but you could wash them by hand and allow to dry in the oven on a very low heat) and use a funnel to pour the clear liquid into the bottles. Store in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays. Ice cubes are a great idea – you could add them to sparkling water for an instant elderflower hit and they last for so long. When they’ve frozen, decant them to freezer bags.

RECIPE: Elderflower Jelly

INGREDIENTS

115g caster sugar

100ml water

1/2 lemon, juiced

7 sheets of gelatine leaves

175ml elderflower cordial

450ml sparkling water

A good handful of chopped strawberries and blueberries (optional)

METHOD: Cover the gelatine in water and leave for 5 minutes. Mix the sugar, lemon and water together in a saucepan and slowly dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and quickly remove from the heat. Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze the water from it and place the sheets into the syrup. Stir until all the gelatine has dissolved. Add the cordial and sparkling water and gently stir. Pour into a bowl and put in the fridge. Stir occasionally until it is starting to set and the add the fruit. Stir it through the jelly and then leave to set fully. You could make it extra elderflowery by whipping up some cream with a little cordial and serving this with the jelly.

RECIPE: Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool

Gooseberries are also in season now so get them picked and frozen. This is always a big hit, whenever I make it. It is ridiculously easy to make!

INGREDIENTS

500g gooseberries

3 tbsp caster sugar

4 tbsp elderflower cordial

1/2 lemon, juiced

350ml double cream

METHOD: Top and tail the gooseberries and gently heat them in a pan with the lemon juice, sugar and cordial until they’ve softened and burst. Gently crush the gooseberries and leave to cool in a bowl. Whip the cream and combine with the cooled gooseberries. Serve with a couple or raspberries and a sprig of mint on top.

Follow Christine on Twitter @thefrugaldiary or read her blog.