Saturday, 27 July 2013

Elderflower Syrup and a warm July Evening

Happy Saturday!

I hope you've had a lovely day and that not too much rain has fallen where you are. We have only had a few minutes of rain this evening and I am sat by my open dining room window now, breathing in that fresh rain smell. Peaceful.

Paul, Elle, Benji and I spent yesterday evening and today with Paul's parents, such wonderful people. Kind and good natured, the kids love them! Especially as Nanny always has an abundance of crisps, sweets and "yummy food". There literally is no end to those cupboards! - I'm blaming the kids, but I must admit, I do love to dive into them too. Whilst we were pottering around this afternoon, I was thinking that I had not done a cooking post for a while and even I am fed up droning on about a certain gene, so I have a very special one for you this evening.

Making Elderflower syrup could not be easier. There are only four ingredients, the preparation doesn’t take that long and the best thing is that it can be done on a warm evening in July, out in the garden or in the kitchen with the radio on and the back door still open. I’m making syrup instead of cordial this year because, although it doesn’t keep for as long, I’ll still get about a month from it and it’s much more versatile.  I can add the syrup to ice cream, lemonade, sparkling water, ice lollies, vodka or prosecco. And I’m sure that you will think of many more wonderful goodies to add it to also.

Unfortunately, we do not have any Elderflower bushes in our garden or anywhere local, very typical of living in the city. This means that when I do find a bush I have to play with the traffic when I try to pick some from the roadside. If , like me, you do have to go out and about to find your Elderflower please be careful and try not to gather the flowers that are very close to a road with heavy traffic as the flowers will be super dirty. If that is all you can get be sure to rinse them well before using and leave enough flower heads on a single plant for the birds in the autumn, as they eat the berries.

Today, however, being in the countryside, I was able to grab quite a lot!

This is a rather typical Elderflower flower-head. Cut them from the stem when the tiny flowers have only just opened up fully. You don’t need to watch and wait for this to happen you’ll be able to tell if some of the florets are not open or if the open ones are past their prime as they tend to go slightly yellow/brown in colour.

Elderflower Syrup
Makes approx 1 litre
25 Elderflower flower heads
5 unwaxed lemons
1kg Caster/ Superfine sugar
1lt water
You will also need a large pan with a lid.
Shake the flower heads free of any bugs. You may not get them all first time, don’t worry they’ll appear and you can remove them.
Strip the tiny white florets from the flower heads. I pull them off with my finger tips. You only want the flowers, not the stems, the stems are poisonous if eaten in large quantities so try to separate them as best you can. It is fiddly doing this but rather therapeutic and it’s a lovely ‘sunny evening’ thing to do on the patio.
Add the tiny white florets to the pan that has the lid and compost the stems.

Zest five lemons and add the zest to the pan.
Juice the five lemons, I use a fork to juice mine as I find it easier, and add the juice to the elderflower and lemon zest.
Stir together so that the elderflower soaks up the lemon juice and the zest is combined.
The infusion has begun.

Move over to your oven hob and pour the water in to a pan.
Turn the heat up high.
Pour in the sugar and stir.
Stir until the water has turned clear. This means that all of the sugar has dissolved, which is what you want.
Carry on stirring until it boils.
Allow it to stay at a rolling boil for another minute or so and then pour the water/sugar mixture over the elderflower and lemon.
Replace the lid of the pan and place your ‘soon to be’ Elderflower Syrup to one side. Allow it cool and remain to one side for three days. If you drain it before three days are up you’ll find that the syrup has very little elderflower flavour and is just very, very sweet. Even after three days the taste of elderflower is extremely subtle, but that is the beauty of it. You’ll know the difference between a quality syrup and sugar water I promise.

After three days drain the liquid through a very fine sieve or a preserving stand and pour the syrup in to steralised glass bottles with an air tight lid or stopper. Keep in the fridge for up to a month.
Bottles of Elderflower Syrup make fantastic gifts for people. Add your own label and you can start a cottage industry!

- Some of last years batch!

It is so simple to do, and good fun too :) 

After some very exciting news today (Which I'm sure I can share very soon!) I'm ready for a glass of wine - or two and a snuggle with the hubby.

Have a fantastic day/evening wherever you are.

I love you and thank you for reading.

Bex xox

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