elderflowersIt’s a great time for a bit of easy foraging, as the Elderflowers are finally coming into bloom. If you are new to foraging, then this is a great one to start with – elderflowers are easy to identify, their large white blooms are in most hedgerows and woodlands at the moment, and you can make a couple of delicious products. Avoid roadside elders as they tend to be dusty and fumigated with petrol.

One of my favourite hedgerow snacks is elderflower fritters where you can eat the whole blooming lot! Ask permission to forage first, then simply grab a couple of flower heads from your nearest hedgerow (the flatest ones that have just started flowering), give them a good shake to clear out any insects, and take home. Prepare a beer batter. (100g self raising, 100ml water, 50ml beer – whisk till smooth.) I tend to add extra beer to make a very light batter. Then dunk the flowers head first into the batter and shallow fry in very hot vegetable oil until crispy and light brown. Season well and eat!

You can also make lovely cordial or champagne, but this requires a bit more time.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

elderflower cordial

Steeping of flowers: 48 hours

Total Time: 48 hours, 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1k /2 ¼ lbs sugar
  • 1.5 litres / 6 cups boiling water
  • 4 medium lemons, washed
  • 30 large Elderflower heads, shake to remove any insects
  • 55g / 2 oz citric acid (available from a chemist

Preparation:

  • Place the sugar into a large saucepan. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and leave to cool.
  • Zest the lemons with a fine grater, add to the sugar water.
  • Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the water and stir again.
  • Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.
  • Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
  • Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles (you can sterilize them in the dishwasher). Seal and store in a cool, dark place.

On the subject of Elders, we have also been trying ground elder this year, that infamous weed which makes a tasty soup or is a Scandinavian delicacy fried in butter. I have decided to take the battle of the weed into the kitchen: we have made soup and have gently sauteed the stems in butter. The taste is slightly of fennel, unusual and pleasant. It was brought into Britain by the Romans as a vegetable and is popular in Scandinavia. Make sure to use only young shoots, before it flowers, as it gets tough and fibrous.