Yesterday was a very productive day as I made use of the fruits of my foraging. The elderflowers that had infused overnight were turned into cordial. It was a proud, if sticky, occasion. I have to say that I think cooking with elderflowers and boating were made for each other. Inside a house, one has the laborious task of picking over each flower head to remove insects – of which I found masses. On board, one can simply tap the heads over the side of the boat the shake the creatures loose. Marvellous.
There were times when combining the boiling, the bottling and the labelling with locking was tricky, even a tad precarious. But I still say it beats doing it in a house every time.
I also managed to whip up a batch of Dandelion Marmalade, though the dandelions were becoming increasingly allusive. My advice? Stick to making it in early Spring, when the first crop of flowers are abundant.
Boaters’ Elderflower Cordial
Makes about 2 litres
About 25 elderflower heads
Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
1 heaped tsp citric acid
Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and tap on the side of the boat to remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest. Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse. You may need to remove infusion to under the cratch cover or some equally nearly outdoor spot to placate any hayfever sufferers on board – the scent can be overwhelming.
Starin the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a sauce pan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.
Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw tops or corks.