Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Tonic

Raid your hills (as long as they're not in a protected area), your backyard, or a neighbor's backyard (with permission, of course), and collect the elder flowers that are blooming somewhere near you. Don't collect too many per plant—remember, you or the local wildlife may want to collect fruit later in the year—and choose flowers that have just opened. Avoid any with brown spots or have begun to set fruit.

Then, set out to make your own cordial, a mixer that tastes of clean muscat grapes and a bouquet of flowers you want to eat.

Elderflower Cordial

You will need:
1.5 liters water
1.35 kg sugar
30 grams citric acid
3 whole lemons, thinly sliced (I used meyer lemons because that is what I have, but I think the floral nature of the meyer lemons works really well in this)
25 heads of just-opened elderberry flowers (don't rinse them off because the pollen contains flavor; don't worry about the bugs because you'll end up straining them out later)

To make the cordial:
Combine the sugar and water in a large pot, and heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool, then add the lemons and the citric acid. Stir until the citric acid is dissolved completely. Make sure the mixture is really cool (no warmer then room temperature), and stir in the flowers. Cover the pot and let it sit for 48 hours.

Once the flowers, lemons, and syrup have sat around for a couple of days, the flavors will have combined into something that tastes like bee heaven. Pour the mixture through a colander into a large bowl to remove the flowers and pieces of lemon, then pour through a double-layer of cheesecloth to remove all the finer grit: bugs, dust, and other goodies. Finally, pour into two sterilized 750 ml bottles. You may have a little extra that you can pour into a jar for near-immediate consumption.

To serve, add to sparkling water, vodka and ice, lemonade, or any other concoction where spring in a glass is welcome.

This should keep, refrigerated, for one month.


Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) said...

I love this! Is there anyway to substitute the sugar for anything? Or could I use less of it?

Wendy said...

Hmmm, not sure if ours are out yet. Shall go walking and check today. :)

Daphne said...

Ours are a while from blooming. Your recipe sounds delicious.

Christina said...

Meghan: I read about 50,000 recipes for the stuff, and this recipe has the least amount of sugar I feel comfortable using. The sugar acts as a preservative here, and remember, this is not meant to be drunk alone, but mixed as a syrup with other liquids. If you find a way of substituting sugar, let me know! I'd love to hear it.

Wendy: Here, some are blooming mightily, and some are a few weeks off still. They don't all seem to happen at one time.

Daphne: Let me know if you try it, or if you have a variation, I'd love to see that too.

Dave Jones said...

sounds delicious....I think it's definitely worth a try.

Shaheen said...

I am going to make this once the elderflowers start growing in sunny Scotland. As of yet no sign...

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

very nice! I bet this would be delicious mixed with a little champagne.

I used to live in an area where elderberry trees were very prevalent. I never tried anything with the flowers, though I wish I had. Now I am living in Germany and there are no elderberry trees to be found :( However, wild garlic and crabapples are pretty abundant!

Christina said...

Dave: I hope it works well for you. Welcome to A Thinking Stomach!

Mangocheecks: They'll show up soon, I know they will! Spring will arrive for you.

Jen: I haven't tried it mixed with champagne yet, but I'm sure it will be delicious. I'd love to read what you do with the crabapples. I love crabapples.

ann said...

I love elderflower cordial. I'm not sure if we have any blooming yet. I too shall have to go take a walk and see. I hope your garden is doing well! I planted some of your seeds that you sent me last weekend: the favas and cilantro. I'm sadly not going up to the house this weekend otherwise I would be planting the orach and tatsoi as well. Will have to wait 'til next weekend!