Elderflowers

It’s elderflower season from late May to early July so now is the time to get picking! This year I caught the elderflowers nice and early.  Looking out of my window I could see white blooms in a field near me and I knew it would be elderflowers.  I took a few bags and went out to pick some of the gorgeous, fragrant, white blossoms at the end of May. 
 
When I got to the field I was pleasantly surprised to find even more elder trees than I expected! However, many of the flowers were way too high for me to reach, and guarded by a huge patch of nettles that reached up to my neck! I still picked a couple of bags full from the lower-hanging branches, and I was really glad I had decided to wear trousers and a long-sleeved top.  Foraging is dangerous business!
 
I decided to make elderflower cordial and put aside the best flowers for that.  I ended up making it with oranges and bottled lemon juice because I didn’t have any lemons.  Traditionally, people use lemons for elderflower cordial, so I’m going to call it ‘Elderflower and Orange Cordial’.  It’s not as purist as cordial made with lemons but it’s still tasty!
 
I also dried some elderflowers, which is something I haven’t done before.  They will last for the whole year stored in a glass jar and have many uses in cooking, baking, and to make drinks like elderflower tea, so I’m excited to use them.
 
How to dry elderflowers:

1. Outside, give the umbels a shake to get rid of bugs, and a light dip in water to clean them.  

2. Spread the umbels out on baking paper and put them somewhere cool and shady in the house where they can dry out.  The smell of elderflowers is very potent and will fill the whole room with their fragrance.

3. Leave them for three days to dry and then use your fingers to rub the flowers off the stems.  I didn’t manage to get rid of all the little green stems but I think that’s ok. There was pollen all over my fingers by the time I was done so be aware it gets a bit messy! Some pollen will fall onto the baking paper so make sure to shake that into the glass jar too.  You don’t want to lose any of that good elderflower flavour!

4. Store your dried elderflower heads in a glass jar to use throughout the year.

I’m really pleased with how my elderflower cordial and dried elderflowers turned out.  I love foraging and making the most of the free food offered by nature.  All-year round there is something to forage and I really enjoy following the seasons and learning where my local food can be found, whether it’s berries, fruit, rose hips, herbs, or edible flowers like elderflowers. Enjoy the elderflower season this year! Elderflowers are so versatile and are useful in all sorts of recipes.

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