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These last few weeks I’ve suddenly began to appreciate the Elder tree. Usually I curse this creeping weed as just one shrub can take over an entire border as shoots pop up everywhere. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve tried to minimise spread through weed control fabric, weed killer and good old fashioned digging but it always comes back.
Our garden has four elder trees, the ones in our tiny forest don’t bother us much but the one on the drive has made a mess of one particular border. I’ve actually given up with this now and scattered foxglove and Poppy seeds, letting these fight for space with the elder shoots.
Attending the village summer fete I saw one stall selling elderflower cordial for 50pence a glass while the recipe was just 40pence. I couldn’t resist taking a copy and trying it for myself, here’s what it advised:
2.5 kg Sugar
1.5 litres of water
2 unwaxed lemons
20 elderflower heads
85g citric acid (you can buy this from any chemist or even from Boyes)
Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat. Add the zest of the lemons and then quarter them and throw them in. Add the citric acid, stir, then add the washed elderflower heads. Leave immersed in the syrup overnight.
Then sieve the mixture to remove all the elderflowers and decant into sterilised bottles.
It will keep for 6 weeks.
Mix with lemonade or soda water for a refreshing drink.
As usual I couldn’t stick to the recipe, for some reason I always feel like a fraud if I follow a recipe to the letter and take credit for how it tastes. So with this one I made a couple of adjustments. I added half a kilo less sugar as the sweetness did seem to overpower the flavour. I also put in 10 lavender stalks and heads along with the elderflower. In my opinion this has raised this drink from ordinary to extraordinary as it offers a homemade cordial that cannot be bought anywhere in the shops (yet) and tastes amazing.
I served it with lemonade and a sprig of French lavender, the woody stalks make the perfect stirrer.