Recipe - Elderflowers

Living in the west of the town, I get my elderflowers on walks on the Downs above the prison. The flowers keep going there for weeks; the higher and shadier you go, the later they continue. This is a bumper year: the trees are blooming like cumulus clouds. Elderflower syrup is easy-peasy to make and cheaper than the bought stuff. My recipe comes from an excellent book, The Elder in History, Myth and Cookery by Ria Loohuizen, published by Prospect Books. Some people prefer to boil their mixture (I’m going to try that for my second batch). This one seems – so far -to have worked well without.

Collect a small bagful of flowers, ideally on a sunny day. Leave any that have the slightest discolouration; they make the brew taste manky. Put the flowers (getting rid of as much stem as possible) in a big bowl and cover with cold water. Cover with a clean tea-towel and leave in a cool place for 2 days. Strain off the flowers through muslin or an unused j-cloth. Measure out the amount of liquid and put in a pan with 750g of sugar and a tablespoon of citric acid per litre of liquid. You can get the latter ingredient from the chemists, HA Baker on the High Street. They ran out recently, doubtless due to elderflower cordial fever. Supplies are due in. Heat gently, without boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Put in clean bottles and store in a cool place or the fridge. That’s it. HE

Elder flowers: “the trees are blooming like cumulus clouds”