What a weekend, who’d have believed it? Summer’s arrived at last, Murray’s won Wimbledon and we finally got around to picking some elderflower blossom. Rather than making some cordial I plumped for vinegar this year; I may even christen my finished bottle with some suitably corny, Murry-esque title if I can think of one (all suggestions welcome).
I’ve been eyeing up the bounteous blossom for weeks. Has it been a particularly good year or is it just the fact that I’ve been frustrated at never getting out there ? Well, what with the sudden heat-wave I really did think that I might have missed the boat, as the flowers must be fresh and new or there’s the chance of that rather nasty cat-pee bouquet. We finally made our way up to The Downs, Bristol’s fabulous open park land, to find the place heaving with cars and runners and so we were forced to retreat to one lone elder we’d spotted on the way.
We perched precariously on our steps, reaching out with the loppers over a very uninviting bed of nettles and managed a rather measly pile of flowers. So, gallons of cordial were obviously out of the question and suddenly Diana Henry’s suggestion of Elderflower vinegar (from her fabulous book salt sugar smoke) seemed perfect. It’s a cinch to make too.
1 suitable jar, such as a kilner jar, sterilised
Enough elderflower heads to fill your jar
1 bottle of white wine vinegar.
Clean off the blossom, shaking off any bugs, but don’t wash it or you’ll lose all the fragrant pollen (don’t pick after a dewy dawn or rain either, for the very same reason).
Push the flower heads into the jar and cover with vinegar. I put a plastic pastry cutter in on top of the flowers to keep them below the surface of the vinegar. Leave for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place and then strain through muslin.
I couldn’t resist a little taste today and amazingly the vinegar has already taken on some fabulous floral notes. I’ll update you in a few weeks time.