The Last of the Elderflowers

And to think I promised you birthdays. I lied. You will have to wait until tomorrow. Today I have a much more pressing post. Actually, that is not true. The truth is the birthday I want to write about does not actually happen until tomorrow. I do not think for one minute that the person concerned reads this blog but it does not feel quite right to write about it before the event. You know. Just in case I may be trendier than I think. Possibly. OK, not a snowball’s chance, but even so …

Elderflowers. Their days are numbered for 2011. Those of you in more southern climes may have seen the last of them already. Indeed I was doubtful that I would be able to find enough but this weekend I visited the Captain’s ancestral stomping grounds and managed to gather enough to make one more batch of cordial.

These particular blooms were gathered as we walked along the remains of Aylsham Navigations.

The River Bure has now firmly staked its claim to this once thriving canal. There were several trees to choose from but most of the blooms were overblown so it took several trees to gather the quantity I needed. While walking, I spotted plenty of chickweed and was tempted to pick some to make pakora with, but as Norfolk is officially in drought conditions, they were looking a bit stringy and tough. We also spotted some mint growing wild near the mill.

It had a much livelier smell than our garden mint but I don’t think it was water mint. There were so many other plants around that I just couldn’t identify, even with my field guide. What I need to do is go on a course. But more of that another day.

Once home, I got on with making the cordial. I have had a bit of time to experiment with recipes this season, and while I much prefer making it on a boat, I have decided that this recipe is my favourite. It was given to me by my singing teacher while I was an impressionable seventeen year old. She used to start each lesson on sunny days with a long glass of iced elderflower cordial served in the garden while sitting on a rug. So English. So divine.

Elderflower Cordial’s Song

21 elderflower heads

2 lemons

1 tsp citric acid

1 3/4 pints boiling water

3 1/2 lbs sugar

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir till sugar dissolved. Stir twice a day for give days. Strain and bottle in sterilised bottles.


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