Elderflower foraging

by Alison


Inspired by our trips with the Wild Kitchen and our previous successful blackberry picking we decided to try something new this year. We choose another native Irish plant. The Elder tree is common all over Europe and Ireland is no exception. It is an amazingly versatile tree with its flowers, berries and wood having a variety of uses including cordial, vinegar, tea, champagne, wine, chutney, jam and (for the fellow Potter fans out there) wands.

The elderflowers are bright white blossoms. Their stems have 5-7 soft green leaves and they have a very distinctive smell. They are a common sight in Ireland in late May and most of June if you know what you are looking for. 


It took me a little while to figure out exactly what I was looking for. I used a couple of different resources to ensure I wasn't going to poison anybody. These included: a book called Wild Food, nature's harvest: how to gather, cook and preserve by Biddy White 
Lennon and Evan Doyle, the following website wildandslow.comand in the end just be absolutely certain when I was picking up some bits at the farmers market I asked them to take a quick look. I would recommend asking somebody if you can. Not only did they assure me that I had the right stuff but they also gave me some tips on how to preserve it. I had planned to dry it out but instead they advised me to preserve most of it fresh as this keeps all the pollen which is good if you suffer from hay fever.

Anyway once I knew what I was looking for it seemed the fields were littered with elder flower trees. It made driving very distracting.

We managed to go on two foraging trips before the flowers were gone. We picked enough flowers to try a couple of recipes.  Today I am going to share with you recipes for elderflower cordial and elderflower vinegar. Both recipes have been adapted from the blog- Rosie makes jam. Hopefully we will have a recipe for elderflower wine in the future.

Elderflower cordial

Ingredients for the cordial: 
400g white caster sugar
2 lemons
12 elderflower heads
1.5 L water

Method for the cordial:
Place the sugar in a large bowl / saucepan.
Boil the water. Pour the water over the sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Cut the lemons into slices and add to the sugar and water.
Shake the flower heads to remove any insects.
Remove the flower heads from the stalks (you want the least amount of stalk possible in left attached to the flower heads).
Add the flower heads to the sugar mixture and cover for 48hours.
Stir every so often.
Once ready strain the mixture through muslin.
Decant the cordial into sterilised bottles / jars and seal or if you don't have space to store these pour into ice-cube bags and store in the freezer.

Mix with sparkling water and ice for a summer time drink.

Elderflower vinegar

Ingredients for the vinegar:
600ml white wine vinegar
15 elderflower heads

Method for the vinegar:
Shake the flower heads to remove any insects.
Remove the flower heads from the stalks (you want the least amount of stalk possible in left attached to the flower heads).
Pack the flower heads into a clean jar.
Pour the vinegar on top of the flower heads.
Leave for 2-3 weeks in a sunny spot.
Once ready strain the mixture through muslin.
Decant into bottles and store in a dark cupboard.

Mix with a light oil to make a dressing for salads.






2 comments:

  1. Looking forward to tasting the results. Amazing photo of local road!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We will save you some for Wednesday :)

    ReplyDelete