Whilst Ireland and England may still have to wait a few weeks, here in the South of France elderflowers have been in full fragrant bloom for weeks now.
No time to waste then. To do what with? To make my annual elderflower syrup. What do I use this syrup for? Well, since I make it in its simplest form and not use citric acid as preservative, I freeze them as ice cubes, which I can then simply pop into a glass of cava or sparkling wine (or if you really must, sparkling water!) for a sophisticated and refreshingly fragrant summer drink. Try also pouring it over (and saturating) a plain lemon cake and serve with fruits as an easy-peasy dessert, or use it to make a fragrant icecream.
Pick the flowers on a sunny morning – choose fresh clean flower heads that are just off white to pale cream, and shake the flowers, head down, so any creepy crawlies fall out.
To make about two 75cl bottles you need:
- 25 fresh elderflower heads
- 1.2 kg sugar
- 2 unwaxed oranges, sliced thinly
- 2 unwaxed lemons, sliced thinly
Put the sugar and 1.2 litres of water in a large pan and warm slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When dissolved, bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the flowers and citrus fruits, stir and leave covered in a cool place for 24 hours to steep.
Next day, strain the cordial into clean bottles with clip tops or corks, refrigerate and use within two weeks. Alternatively, pour into ice-cube trays and freeze.