Gooseberries and Elderflowers

Elderflower PickingIsn’t it one of those wonderfully tasty timings of nature that gooseberries and elderflowers happen to be around at the same time? They work so well together in puds and both are so evocative of English summer days. The hazy, lazy sort, when you’re enjoying the garden in dappled sunlight rather than wondering how to amuse children in the rain.

So far, I’ve picked gooseberries from the garden to use in a traditional crumble. I cook the gooseberries briefly with some sugar and a head of elderflower before removing the elderflower, adding the crumble and putting in the oven. And I add oats to the crumble topping (they add a brief, comfortingly healthy vibe before I remember all the butter and sugar).

I also cooked a gooseberry and elderflower compote (just cooked them in same way as for first bit of crumble but for a bit longer) which was yummy with granola and yoghurt for breakfast or with yoghurt and a spoon of cold homemade custard for pud.

But it wouldn’t feel like June without at least one evening heading off across the fields to pick elderflowers for cordial. We headed off after tea this evening, Ruby running across the ridge and furrow field that still has lambs in, then wanting to get on her Dad’s shoulders to pick from the particularly loaded higher branches. Granny came too and we soon had three carrier bags of the fragrant elderflower heads.

Back home, we laid them on a cloth on our outside table to give anything living in them time to fly away before making twice the amount of the recipe that I make every year:

Recipe Elderflower Cordial

30 heads elderflowers, picked on a sunny day, when fully open

60g citric acid (you can buy it from a chemists)

1140 ml boilng water

1.8k sugar

Put everything into a large bowl (not metal). Stir twice a day for 5 days. Strain through a muslin and bottle in sterilised bottles. I cheat and put it in bottles straight from the dishwasher. This keeps fine in the fridge for the month or so it lasts (it’s very popular with friends and even made into ice lollies). The rest I put into plastic bottles and freeze. It’s lovely diluted with fizzy water and looks really pretty if you make ice cubes with borage flowers and pop a few in.

I’m also going to try the Sarah Raven recipe out of her wonderful ‘Garden Cookbook’ which adds slices of lime, oranges and lemons to the elderflower mix  and, because you boil it briefly, is ready in 24 hours. And I’m really keen to make elderflower champagne this year too. Will keep you posted…

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