Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Elderflowers and Rose Petals!

Summer's here, hurray! Time to prepare for the winter, hahaha. We discovered a few years ago that as well as our annual blackberry foraging, there are things to do with flower petals that are very delicious. I help with the collecting, and my husband makes non-alcoholic cordials and wines from rose petals, gorse flowers, elderflowers and elderberries.  Catch the elderflowers before they are all gone. They only bloom for a few weeks in June, but they are versatile and magnificent!

My husband makes a beautiful wine and a non-alcoholic cordial from elderflowers. He has already made a batch of cordial (we drank one bottle and 2 other small bottles are in the freezer) and prepared a gallon of wine. But the weather has been so nice and the flowers are not gone yet, so we went out this morning and got some more bunches for another batch of wine (which tastes  similar to ice wine, verrrrry nice). For the cordial you need 6-8 heads of elderflower in full bloom, 1 pint water, zest & juice of 2 lemons and 175 g caster sugar. Stir sugar and water over medium heat till sugar dissolves; add elderflower heads and bring to boil for 5 mins. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and zest. Cover and leave to infuse 24 hours before straining and bottling. Dilute to taste (sparkling water or prosecco!). For the cordial the eldeflower heads are left intact and strained later, but for wine the flowers need to be removed from their stems or the wine will be bitter.

The elderflower wine recipe is a little more complicated (recipes are easily available online) but the ingredients are the same as for cordial - flowers, lemon, sugar and water!

Wild roses are also in bloom on hedgerows everywhere. This is our wild rose bush that we brought with us from Kerry in 1996 and now happily resides beside the fuschia hedge in our front garden.

I love wild roses. Ours are pink, but they also are abundant in white. The pink petals are preferable for a cordial just because the end product looks nice!

To make the cordial, you need about 2 generous handfuls of petals with bitter white "claws" removed, juice of 1 lemon, 500 ml water and 300 g sugar. Simmer water, petals and lemon juice for 15 mins. Strain and return liquid to pot; add sugar to the rose water and heat till sugar has dissolved. Simmer 5 mins before filling sterilised bottles or jars.

Add sparkling water to the cordial for a soft drink, or add prosecco for a sparkly adult drink. Better yet, make rose petal martinis and enjoy the great weather!

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