When I’ve been out walking I’ve noticed the abundance of elderflowers this year, while all the heads may not be huge, the flowers are rich and heady with pollen and scent, they smell gorgeous and I thought to pick some during the week to make some ice-cream and cordial.
One of my friends gave me some strawberries and gooseberries from her allotment and while I’ll happily eat strawberries until they come out of my ears, I’m not the biggest fan of cooked gooseberries unless they’re in a jam…..however we’ve still got a pantry full of preserves made last Summer (since I’ve had to stop eating bread I realise just who it was eating all the marmalades and jam on toast…me) so I thought it would be a bit daft to make more, and then I found a recipe for gooseberry and elderflower ice-cream and thought it would make a nice pudding now the weather has turned almost overnight from wrapped in woolies Winter to scorchy Summer .
The ice-cream is very easy, and was nice although I think I should have used more elderflowers as the taste was very subtle (the heads I used weren’t huge so maybe I should have bunged more in)….I used the recipe from Sarah Raven’s Garden cookbook….this is one of my favourite recipe books and I’ve seen it quite cheap on a few on-line places…..she’s a great cook and there are some nice “foraging” recipes using food you can find in the wild.
The fruit and flowers are cooked with a little water to which you allow to cool and then you beat egg yolks and sugar together, whip some double cream, and then whip the egg whites…the cooled puree is mixed in with the yolks and then you add the cream and the egg whites before putting it in the freezer…..the full recipe and quantities are in the book.
It’s great because you don’t have to keep taking the ice-cream out of the freezer to whisk…….using the freshest eggs and best cream will make a big difference as will using home grown fruit.
And as you can see, I had a little assistant to help me….the bowl wasn’t down two minutes while I got my camera but someone had to stick his nose in to see whether there was anything interesting inside……the lovely bowl is one of the few remaining kitchen items I inherited when my nanny died, I love the yellow glaze inside, and I’ve not seen another one like it.
The elderflower cordial was ridiculously easy to make and has come out tasting so good that even my boyfriend is drinking it (and he’s not normally a cordial kind of guy)
1 un-waxed lemon
10 big elderflower heads
1 kilo of granulated sugar
25 g of citric acid (you can buy it from Boots)
750 ml water.
Put a kettle on a boil the water….put the sugar into a large bowl (I used my jam pan* as it’s nice and big)……and then pour on the water…stir to dissolve the sugar.
Grate the lemon rind and finely slice the lemon.
Add the grated and sliced lemon and the citric acid to the sugary water….stir
Give the elderflowers a gentle shake making sure sure there aren’t any little creepy crawlies or eggs attached to the flowers…..immerse in the syrup and cover with a large clean tea towel.
Leave for at least 24 hours…stir occasionally.
Sieve the mixture through a large square of muslin, and pour into sterilised bottles** and then seal.
It’s really important to store the cordial in a really cold place as if it gets warm it will ferment, the glass bottles can explode, and you’ll be cleaning up sticky syrup til the cows come home…so if you don’t have room to keep this in the fridge, perhaps pour the cordial into ice cube trays/bags or small plastic bottles and store it in the freezer.
Next batch I make I’m going to add some crushed lemon verbena leaves…..
The past few weeks our wild and alpine strawberries have been ripening in moments of sunshine, because it’s not been great weather-wise they’ve had to work hard and the berries are even more intense flavoured than ever this year. As always it’s the plants that grow where they please that have produced the best tasting berries and although I normally have a small handful scattered over yoghurt for breakfast I’m thinking to adapt the cordial recipe and try and make a strawberry one.
We’ve also had the very first of the raspberries (no pictures though as I was too busy cramming them into my mouth to worry about getting my camera) ….this is very early as they’re a late season variety (Autumn Bliss)…the plants are already laden with berries so perhaps we’ll have a bigger first harvest….. (last year we only had a few in the first crop followed by a few weeks of nothing…but then our second harvest was the best ever…thankfully I’ll never get fed up of eating warm raspberries picked just minutes before).
* not the fancy copper pan but a cheap one I bought some years ago from a local department store.
** We’re somewhat addicted to Lorina lemonade, and always save the bottles for cordials as they have lovely tops and are a fantastic size….or we give them to friends who make fruit drinks.