Posts Tagged ‘elderflower’

Spring Elderflower Vinegars / Shrubs

The first Scottish Radical Herbal Gathering is in September – tickets on sale in July. We recently got talking about the important entertainments aspect of the Gathering and wanted to make sure there will be some tasty forageables for the non-alcoholic attendees – we have a lot of options for wild alcohol… As I have a lot of Elderflower Recipes of the boozy and non-boozy varieties and, one of my favourites, Elderberry Vinegar, I thought, why not combine the two and look in to some Elderflower Vinegars?

Today, I managed to collect a good stash of Elderflower heads – unexpected bonus of the cooler weather is that I only brought one greenfly in to the flat and its sensitive pre-allotment seedlings on the windowsill. When you’re picking Elderflower heads it should ideally be early on a sunny day, so that you get maximum pollen before the insects get to it. In reality, you can pick later in the day, just give the flowers a good sniff to check they’re fragrant – this can vary a bit from tree to tree as well. A few points on picking, like all foraging, Elderflower picking is best done sustainably and respectfully, leaving plenty behind for the plant and other species’ who rely on it to survive. Respectful foraging also often means securing the main plant with one hand as you pick with the other – petals like Rose  and very ripe berries are probably the main exceptions. You should also try to remove the plant material cleanly and from a growth point to prevent dead material being left on the plant and potentially creating an easy environment for deseases. When I got home, I discovered that getting Elderflowers off of their stalks with a fork is a tad more labour intensive than getting Elderberries – which you can freeze and then they pop off. I recommend a good, long radio programme for when you have a go with these recipes.

I’ve used two recipes – one with sugar from the outset from JamJarShop and another with no sweeteners (yet) from GreatFoodClub They both take 2 to 3 weeks to infuse, after which I’ll strain them and then use the vinegar to make refreshing shrubs, diluted with soda water.I’m sure there’ll be some left for the Gathering in September.

Sugar-Free Recipe

  1. Sterilise a large jar – I used a Kilner which was just under 1L.
  2. I picked 15 elderflower heads for 900ml white wine vinegar.
  3. Pick the flowers and place in the jar, covering with the vinegar.
  4. Seal, and place on a sunny windowsill for 2-3 weeks.
  5. Strain through muslin and decant vinegar into bottles.
  6. Store in a dry, dark cupboard.

Sugary Recipe

Follow the steps above with slightly different ingredients, for a roughly 1L jar, I used:

18 elderflower heads /  450g caster sugar / zest of 1 orange / 650ml apple cider vinegar

 

Elderflower Cordial and Delights

I wrote last year about Elderflower Champagne, this year something for the sweet, rather than alcholic, tooth: Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Turkish Delight (adapted from here, many thanks for the inspiration). Both recipes require an overnight wait, to infuse the Elderflower for the Cordial and to set the Turkish Delights.

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Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Champagne June 2013   To make 1 litre of cordial, in a large bowl mix:

15 Elderflower heads, freshly picked

Zest of 1 lemon and ½ an orange (keep the juice to add later)

Pour 750ml boiling water over the mix, cover and leave overnight

Strain and discard the flowers and zest

Heat the liquid with 500g sugar and the orange and lemon juice

Simmer for a few minutes then bottle whilst still hot

The cordial keeps for a few weeks in the fridge, or freeze to keep for later in the year

TO USE: Dilute 1:4 with cold, hot or sparkling water

VARIATIONS: Make ice lollies: 1 part cordial to 2 parts water

                                Add to cocktails           *          Flavour desserts

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Elderflower Turkish Delight

This is an easy recipe, which just requires a little patienceCreated with Nokia Smart Cam

In one pan heat 250ml water with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 200g sugar

Bring to the boil and allow to evaporate to a light syrup, stirring occassionally

(not as technical as it sounds – I do this using guess work and finger-crossing)

In a second pan gently heat 250ml water and 50g cornflour

This requires a bit more stirring than the sugar mix as it will thicken quickly

Pour the hot sugar syrup in to the gloopy cornflour and mix well

Simmer gently for one hour – it will make disturbing noises, leave it alone

Flavouring: add 1 tablespoon Elderflower Cordial at the end of the hour, stir in well

Pour the mixture in to a tupperware box and leave to set overnight

Created with Nokia Smart CamCut your Delights and roll in a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour, with twice as much cornflour as icing sugar

Store in an airtight container

The Delights will keep for a few days, re-roll them in the icing sugar mix if they get a bit sticky

VARIATIONS: add 1 tablespoon Rosewater and 5 frozen Raspberries

Pre-flavour your syrup using Elderflower or Rose flavoured sugar

Elder, Fennel and Violet – Tales from Battlefield Gardens

Medicinal plants have been part of the storytelling tradition for centuries – from fairytales to Shakespeare. Amanda Edmiston of Botanica Fabula has written a wonderful new story about two brothers for the Battlefield Community Gardens, with appearances from 3 medicinal plants – Elder, Fennel and Violet. Amanda’s tale reminds us of the tortoise and the hare, with the tortoise-like brother tending and collecting plants along his journey. The plants then form a part in his proving how the quest ended. You can add your own moral, I like to think if we look after the plants, they’ll look after us.

Elder Tree     Sambucus nigra

The Elder tree gives us two different medicines – from the flowers in Spring and berries in Autumn. The sweet, heady flowers can be used to make cordial or champagne or if you want to have maximum berries later in the year, just pick a few heads of flowers and make an Elderflower sugar. Elderflower tea is perfect for colds, ‘flu’ and allergies – with Nettle and Plantain they make a great hayfever tea, add Eyebright if streaming or irritated eyes are a problem.

Elderberry is full of anti-oxidant vitamins and is a great anti-viral. You can make a syrup for coughs and colds or a culinary vinegar for salad dressings and marinades. You will know that your Elderberries are ready for picking when the purple berries hang heavy from the branches – you may also see pigeons happily munching away at the top of the tree. Elderberry seeds can be slightly irritating to your stomach, so do be careful if you’re eating any of them raw – just try a couple to check you have tasty, ripe berries, then make sure to process the rest well to remove the seeds or dry and use as a tea.

 

Violet    Viola spp.

Sweet, cooling violets make a great syrup for coughs and colds, especially for children. The cooling character is great for fevers and also the emotional heat of anger. For hot, angry skin conditions, Violet tea can be taken, with a Violet cream to soothe and protect.

 

Fennel    Foeniculum vulgare

With a familiar kick of Liquorice-like aniseed flavour,  Fennel is used as gripe water for babies to ease disrupted digestion and by mothers to help milk production.

Fennel Flower

Fennel is a very portable medicinal plant – the tiny flowers and seeds are especially strong and pungent and can be nibbled to ease the stomach or the lungs – aiding clear breathing and good digestion to keep a traveller strong and nourished. If you’ve missed the flowers, the rest of the plant is also edible and medicinal and can be chopped to make a tea.

 

Look out for more Tales of Medicinal Plants as the Battlefield Community Garden develops.

 

 

 

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

The Elder tree is in flower from June and a few heads of flowers will make 8 bottles of champagne.

Natural yeasts in the Elderflower ferment to create a potent and fizzy brew.

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

15 Elderflower heads: collected on a dry morning for maximum pollen – before the insects get it all

4 Lemons: peel and juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

700g sugar dissolved in 4l warm water

Additional 2l cold water

Elderflower Champagne June 2013

Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bucket, cover

Check the brew after 2 days – if it isn’t obviously fermenting – add a sprinkle of yeastElderflower Balloons

Leave to brew for another 5 days

Strain the liquid into clean bottles

Use a balloon to seal each bottle instead of the cap

Check the balloons every day and let out any gas

Seal the bottles with their caps when no more gas is escaping – it’s now ready to drink

 

VARIATION: Pink Elderflower Champagne: use Red Elderflowers and substitute the lemons with 2 Pink Grapefruits

Elderflower Red IngredientsElderflower Red and Clare