Elderflower cordial is so easy to make, it’s no wonder that it has increased in popularity over the past few years. People increasingly want to make the most of harvesting their natural surroundings, and there is an abundance of elderflower in our hedgerows. You may not have noticed it before, as it can be mistaken for a weed lookalike, but once you know what you are looking for it couldn’t be easier.
The elderflower tree is often found in amongst the hedgerows and has a height of around 5 to 10 meters. Its leaves are feather shaped with 5 to 7 leaflets, each of which is serrated. The easiest way to tell if it is elderflower is by smelling the creamy white flower clusters. Most people find that they smell fresh, sweet and summery.
The time when elderflowers are ready (when the flowers are fully open) is usually between May and June. It’s best you pick them on a sunny day and away from traffic fumes, this will give a better taste to the cordial. You should also avoid picking any elderflower below hip height to make sure that dogs have not cocked their legs up on your flowers! Cut them off with as little stem as possible and give them a little shake before putting them in your bag, this will get rid of a few of the tiny bugs that like to rest on the flowers. It’s also best to gather your flowers from different trees as some are better than others. Sometimes you can smell the difference, but if not, gathering from different trees will make sure you get a good all round taste.
Once you have harvested the flowers you can make up your cordial (see recipe below). You can dilute with some water or add it to Prosecco, cider, gin, sparkling water and even desserts, the list is endless!