Elderflowers are a delightful ingredient which can be used in drinks, desserts and preserves. Homemade elderflower cordial is used in two popular Woodcrest Kitchen products; Lemon and Elderflower Marmalade and Blackberry and Elderflower Jam.
If you haven’t tried making your own homemade elderflower cordial you’re missing out! Homemade is so much better than commercially purchased cordials or drinks. It’s easy to do (although a little time consuming) and there are many recipes online, which follow similar principles. Most will include citric acid; don’t let this put you off, it’s readily available from the pharmacy (it may be behind the counter, but just ask for it).
Homemade cordial freezes really well. I have bottles set aside for freezing purposes but you can use clean empty squash bottles if you have them (remembering not to fill them to the top as the liquid will expand when frozen!)
By freezing the cordial it’s available for when it’s needed.
Here are the Woodcrest Kitchen elderflower picking tips:
1. Pick early in the morning (the earlier the better), as the flowers are more fragrant in the morning.
2. It’s essential to pick in the countryside and away from roads since the flowers can be polluted from traffic.
3. Pick the flowers and not too much stalk (they taste of greenery!)
4. The white coloured flowers are generally best, avoiding those which are creamy yellow in colour.
5. Smell each flower head. Some flowers seem to have better fragrance than others – collect the best smelling flower heads.
6. Don’t strip a whole tree or bush of flowers. Remember that the berries form from the flowers, providing autumn food for wildlife (and another good culinary ingredient for the kitchen, but best not eaten raw!).
7. Pick the flowers which have the buds just opening and no dead flowers.
8. Pick on a still and dry day. If it’s wet, dewy or misty the flowers don’t have the same fragrance.
9. After picking the flowers, get to the cordial making process without delay. As soon as the flowers have been picked they are losing moisture and fragrance.
10. It may seem obvious but don’t trespass, stay safe when foraging, and be 100% sure you know what to pick!