Wild Flower Syrup 

 

Summer lags behind this year and I’ve been waiting to start picking, so I can get making. Last year it was me that lagged behind, so this year I didn’t want to waste any opportunities. I managed some foraging on a sunny day, a rarity at present and decided to make syrup, trying to get that one hot sunny day bottled!

Syrups are versatile, perfect at catching the essence of something, preserving that moment for a later date. Pour your syrupy creation on pancakes, use as a cordial, cocktail mixer (I’m thinking with Prosecco, yum), over ice cream… and so on.  Cheap to make and the ingredients are on your doorstep, just get out there and capture summer in a bottle.

There are many scented flowers out there to create a syrup with.  Classically you could stick to a single flower like elderflower or rose or you could collect others and make a wildflower syrup.  You can use dandelion, hawthorn, wild roses.  You can look in your own garden, use roses that have not been treated with fertiliser or pesticides, or use herbs you find there.  Experimentation with flavours would be a good idea.  Rose & thyme?  Elderflower & basil?  Who knows, I’m just throwing them out there?
So I found elderflower, hawthorn and some rose from the garden, the recipe I have used is adapted from River Cottage Hedgerow, it’s a great book and worth a look.

Ingredients

  • Lots of freshly picked blossoms (1 litre ish)
  • Up to 1kg sugar
  • Up to 500ml water

As the amount of flowers collected is unknown, it’s just important to make a note of your weight of sugar at the start, subtract the sugar you have left after ‘layering’, then you know how much you have used, you need to know this quantity later.

Take your blossoms and layer them approximately 2cm at the bottom at the bottom of your jar or jug.  Next add a 1cm layer of sugar and repeat till your reach the top.  If any of your blossoms are bulky, press them down to pack them in a bit.  But the layering does not have to be a work of art, as you can see, mine clearly isn’t and some layers have merged.

  
Cover your jug/jar and leave it alone for 24 hours. 

Empty your mixture into a saucepan and add to it 50mls water for for every 100g sugar you used (the quantity you worked out earlier).  

  
Heat the mixture gently, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Strain through a muslin or cheese cloth (even a clean tea towel would do) into a clean jug.

Pour the syrup into a sterilised bottle (see the  Elderflower Cordial recipe on how to sterilise bottles).  If you don’t use the syrup right away, store in the fridge, once you do open it.

Elderflower Cordial

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Elderflowers, a signal that summer has arrived, get your sparkling water and ice at the ready, (and your gin) for the most refreshing of summer drinks, elderflower cordial is essentially summer in a bottle.

It’s almost a British staple these days, easy to buy, the cordial is found on all supermarket shelves, but it’s so easy to make too, and the homemade version beats the shop bought stuff hands down, it tastes amazing. Not to mention it’s cheap to make.

The season is nearly over for me but there is still blossom out there, the further north you live, the better at this point. However you could use dried flower heads, which are easy & cheap to purchase on the internet, stocked on sites such as eBay.

Ingredients

30 elderflower heads
2.4kg granulated sugar
1.6 litres water
3 unwaxed lemons
100g citric acid

In a large bowl place the elderflower blossoms. Take the lemons, slice off the ends and throw away. Peel the zest, the slice up the lemon, put both in the bowl with the elderflower & set aside.

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the boiling surup over the elderflowers & lemons. Stir in the citric acid, then cover and love to stand for 24 hours.

Now that you’ve slept and your ready for your cordial. Take a muslin cloth or jelly straining cloth and strain the cordial, pour into sterilised screw top glass bottles and your done.

(Any glass cordial or wine bottles will be fine for using, just wash thoroughly , and place in a 100 degree oven for about 20-30 mins, this will sterilise the bottles really for use).

It’s such a hassle free recipe and reaps great rewards, try it over icecream as sauce or add the cordial to a gin & tonic to give it a summery twist.
When all is said & done though, you can’t beat just drinking it on ice with sparkling water.

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Elderflower Delight

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Turkish Delight seems to be one of those things that you either love or hate, well, I’m a lover of the Delight! I could quite happily snaffle my way through a box on the quiet, so I thought if try my hand at making some but with a different take on them.

This recipe is adapted from the River Cottage Handbook No.7 Hedgerow which is full of great and unusual recipes, and definitely worth a look.

It was surprisingly easy to make but I did change my method slightly to make life simpler and less of a sticky debacle,which is what my first attempt was.

Ingredients:

20g leaf gelatine
20-25 elderflower heads
700g granulated sugar
2 lemons juiced
400mls water
140g corn flour
40g icing sugar

Soak the gelatin in a bowl of cold water to soften it, then strip the elderflowers off the stems and place in a muslin bag, for infusing.

In a saucepan, suspend your muslin bag of elderflower blossom and place the sugar, lemon juice & 300mls of water, heat gently in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved then allow to cool.

Mix 100g only of the corn flour with the remaining 100ml of water until smooth and add to lemon sugar syrup. Remove the elderflower bag. Put the pan back on a low heat, squeeze the gelatine of its excess water and add to the mixture whisking until it’s all dissolved.

Bring it to the boil slowly, it needs 10mins of simmering, stir continuously at this point so it doesn’t stick.

Here is the hardest part, stir for 15 mins, so put on your favourite music, put the kids in front of their favourite tv program as you don’t want to be interrupted at this point!

Your pan of molten mixture should clarify and become like a gloopy glue! Now cool for 10 mins and give that stirring arm a break.

Mix the remaining cornflour with the icing sugar. Then line a shallow baking tin and dust with a big tbsp of the icing sugar & cornflour. Pour your gloopy mixture onto the tray, cool until set. After it’s set, place in the fridge for a few hours.

Slice up the delight into cubes and dust with the leftover icing sugar & cornflour mixture. Then consume!

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