Its Elderflower season and with our dry sunny weather it’s the ideal time to make a batch of Elderflower Syrup, cordial or Champagne. Last year I added fresh fragrant rose petals and really loved the results. Quick and easy to make, here are a few Tips
: Strip the flowers from stems before using, I use a gloved hand as have never liked the fork method.
: Store in sterilized bottles or freeze excess syrup in silicone baking forms for later use.
:Use limes instead of lemons, unwaxed organic of course.
: For the syrup use unrefined sugar, or honey if you can.
Elderflower and rose syrup.
I find the syrup more useful than the champagne, it has no alcohol, no problems with pressure in bottles, excess can be frozen in silicone baking forms and bagged for use much later, ideal ingredient for mixing cocktails or making deserts. If you like a sparkling drink, just add tonic or sparkling water or sparkling wine.
20 Elderflower heads, stripped.
2 cups scented rose petals, from non sprayed roses.
2 kg unrefined sugar, or honey.
3 limes, 1 lemon, organic non waxed, zest and juice.
2 teaspoons of citric or tartaric acid.
1 and half litres water.
Put the elderflowers,a petals, juice and zest into a large bowl or bucket. Biol up about two thirds of the water, no need to be too exact, turn off heat and stir sugar into hot water till dissolved. Cool the mix with the remaining cold water and stir in the acid, Pour the lot over the flowers and cover with a clean cloth. Leave overnight, strain and bottle into sterilized bottles or freeze.
For a real summer treat, serve garnished with flowers or herbs from the garden, lemon balm, rose petals or try a sprig of Rosemary in Gin with a dash of Elderflower syrup.
For the Champagne use 10 Elderflower heads, 1 cup of rose petals and proceed as Dandelion and Gorserecipe.
Spring flower Champagne. And Syrups as mixers or Desert ingredients.
If you try these recipes I would love to hear from you and of course any tips or recipes you might like to share.
The hills and countryside are rich in wildflowers now in mid may. The Fabulous almond scent of Gorse fills the air when the sun shines, there are still plenty of Dandelions to be found and I’ve spotted a few early Elderflowers.
“Champagne” is quick and easy to make and a wonderful low alcohol drink to enjoy in the garden,a “sundowner” as they say in NSW.
Syrups are quick and easy to make, diluted with sparkling water they are delicious, or use drizzled over deserts or breakfast pancakes.
Tip, gather your blossom on a sunny day if at all possible and use as soon as you get home, they will keep a few days in fridge but loose a certain amount of their fragrance.
Ingredients and equipment
Large container for first ferment, to hold 10 liters liquid plus the blossom (15 liter), or scale down recipe if liked.
5 liters of flower petals, Gorse, Dandelion with green removed. Elderflower, I’ve used a mix of mainly Gorse with some Dandelion and just 4 heads of Elderflower.
1kg unrefined sugar.
Ten liters of water.
Zest and juice of 3 limes, 1 lemon. organic
⅓ cup of cider vinegar, (or white wine vinegar)
1 sachet of champagne yeast (optional, wild yeast will do its own work)
On day 4 you will also need, sieve, funnel, Muslin or other cloth for straining. Also strong swing top bottles or Plastic water bottles at a pinch.
Tip, to clean Dandelion flowers, hold by the stalk, Gather petals in other hand and twist.
Put the kettle to boil, noting how mush water you are using to fill, 1liter, 1 ½ or 2.
Put all cleaned blossoms into fermenting vessel along with zests, juice and vinegar.
Measure sugar into the jug and pour the boiling water over stirring to dissolve.
Pour the hot syrup and any remaining boiling water over the blossom and stir.
Top up with remainder of water, allow to cool to room temperature.
Add champagne if using, if not don’t worry, wild yeast will do it’s work.
Leave in a warm place for 2-4 days till the mix bubbles
Tip, as soon as I have added yeast I wrap my bucket in a blanket, this helps keep the temperature constant and fermentation even.
On day 4, strain and bottle in strong swing-top bottles or plastic water bottles.
Leave 2 weeks,in a cool place, then move to fridge.
Tip, Strain through just a sieve first,squeezing out as much liquid as possible with back of spoon. Then strain again through muslin or cotton, be patient this can take a little time. You can see from the layer at top of bottles that I did not strain mine well enough, so will empty bottles and re-strain, this won’t do any harm as it is bottled just two days and won’t loose much fizz by being re-bottled.
Delicious syrups for mixers, lemonades or deserts are quick and east to make and twice as quick to disappear, here I use a mix of Nettle and Lemon balm and as season goes on will add more recipes for Rose petals and Garden herbs.
1 liter of nettle tops
2 handfuls of Lemon balm (or use zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon.
1 liter water.
Put nettle tops and lemon balm or zest and juice into bowl,
Boil the water and pour over,
Stir till sugar is fully dissolved,
Allow to sit for an hour covered with a clean cloth.
Strain, first through a sieve then muslin and bottle.
I’m not a beer drinker but do like this one, chilled on a hot day or sitting round a bonfire at night, easy to make and ready in less than 2 weeks. Important to say you will need strong beer bottles or plastic bottles for the second fermentation. If you try this or have suggestions on how to vary I’d love to hear from you.
4400Ingredients for 1kg nettles to give 12 liters of beer.
1 1/2 kg unrefined sugar,organic if possible.
Zest and juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges, organic.
1 teaspoon of tartaric acid or 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.
Piece of Dandelion root, about 100gm or root ginger.
2 teaspoons of brewers yeast.(you can use bread yeast if no brewers yeast available)
6 liters hot water,5 liters of cold water and a kettle full (1liter)
Harvesting your nettles, Tip weigh you empty collecting container and make a note of the weight, that way you can weight the full container and easily work out weight of nettles gathered. I used a large 20 liter bucket and filled it was approximately 1kg ( if a bit more all the better) Pick just the tips of nettles leaving plenty of food for the many insects which love to feed on nettles.
Put 6 liters of water to boil in a big saucepan or use two if needed. Meanwhile sort through your nettles releasing any hitch-hiking insects back to the great outdoors.
Slice the root, Dandelion or ginger thinly and add to water along with the tartaric acid. Add the nettles and bring to the boil stirring once or twice, allow to boil 15 mins.
Meantime put sugar, zest and juice into the fermenting bucket, boil the kettle and pour contents over sugar, stir to completely dissolve sugar.
Activate the yeast by placing in a cup along with a pinch of sugar, pour on half cup warm water and leave aside.
When the nettles have been boiling 15 mins remove from heat and pour into the fermenting bin, add the 5 liters of cold water and give it all a good stir.
Allow to cool to blood heat and then add the activated yeast.
Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for 5 days.It’s best to maintain a constant temperature if possible, TIP I place the bucket on a doubled blanket andwrap the whole thing up to keep cosy.
While you are waiting for first ferment collect and clean your bottles, they can be sterilized in oven just before filling, (140 degrees cent for 20 mins) You can also use water bottles but they don’t look good and can be either too big or too small.Please do remember you need strong bottles, the swingtop kind used for many craft beers are ideal.
Tip, if using clip top beer bottles, I sterilize the bottles in oven and tops including rubber seal in solution, before removing clips from bottle take a photo of them so it quick and easy to replace them correctly later.
Day 5, strain beer through muslin and bottle, leave one week and it’s ready to enjoy.
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Repeat, adapt to your taste, more Dandelion? more nettle? herbs?