The only time I’ve ever consumed freshly picked elderflowers until now was when, years and years ago, my quirky best friend in primary school let me try some of the fried elderflowers she had brought for lunch from home.
(They were delicious and, I’m imagining, pretty easy to make: the tops of the elderflowers were dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, and then fried. I’ve since learned that in some countries they’re dipped in a sweet batter to make an exquisite dessert worthy of an Arcadian feast.)
Mind you, I’ve always enjoyed elderflower syrup from the supermarket, or elderflower lemonade in restaurants, but I’ve never actually eaten anything (let alone made anything) with freshly picked elderflowers. Until this year.
There’s a certain delight in making food and drink out of things you pick in the wild (or, in my case, in the park). Surely some of that gumption that all freely growing plants must possess – those that aren’t fertilised and watered regularly and trimmed and honed to fruitful perfection – must seep into your veins and fill you with that unquenchable lust for life.
Long story short, I made elderflower cordial out of freshly picked elderflowers a couple of weeks ago. I stirred some brown sugar in some boiled water, and tumbled a bunch of the flowers in there along with a few slices of lemon and a pinch of citric acid, and let it ferment on the sunniest window for about two weeks, stirring thoroughly twice a day. The result is sweet and bubbly and delightfully refreshing, especially with a handful of ice cubes and a sprinkle of soda water.
Depending on where you live, there may not be any elderflowers any more (or just yet), but if you manage to find some growing on a stranded bush, I wholeheartedly recommend picking a couple and eating them.