Elderflower Cordial Part 1

Here we are in mid June.  What is in flower down in Zeb’s favourite woods?

The wild garlic has vanished and there are swathes of frothy cow parsley, icecream pink dog roses, sparkly blackberry blooms and the elders are full of ripening heads of fragrant baby stars.

This is the year I finally try to make elderflower cordial. My aunt Barbara, who lives on an island on Lake Mälaren,  Sweden, makes this every year by the gallon and supplies all her neighbours and people who visit the one shop on Adelsö get the opportunity to sample it too!

The elderflowers have heads of little tiny star like florets, they look a bit like stelline, and on a warm summer’s day you can follow that glorious fragrance to the source….

It makes sense to only take a few from each shrub or tree as the elderberries that form later are a valuable source of food for birds in the autumn. We asked our local parkkeeper who maintains these woods which belong to the Council if it was all right and he was happy for us to collect some flowers for our personal use.  We picked about half a bag, approx 25 flower heads,  in the end.

Avoid picking them where spraying has taken place or near a roadside if you can and make sure you can identify them confidently.  These woods are nowhere near farmland  and I am pretty confident they haven’t been sprayed. The books say pick on a warm dry day, and choose flowers which have a mixture of not quite open budlets and open flowers.

I have no idea how the commercial stuff is produced, or where the manufacturers source the huge quantities of elderflowers they must need…. Maybe there are armies of elderflower pickers all over the world stripping the woods bare..

More to come….

Click here for Elderflower Cordial Part 2

4 thoughts on “Elderflower Cordial Part 1

  1. Lynne

    I am waiting for part 2 of this with great anticipation…I just love Elderflower cordial and I have never made it…read Pam’s recipe for it and thought…maybe this year but it is raining so much right now I am not sure I am going to see any flowers to make cordial with…..lets us have pictures of exactly how you made it please……

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Oh, this is very exciting, Jo! I can’t wait to see what happens next! Thanks for the close up photos – I saw Hugh FW making elderflower beer on one of his shows, and always wondered what the flowers looked like, but they were too tiny to see!

  3. Ulrike

    Here in Northern Germany the first heads begin to open. I picked from 20 bushes the one and only open head ;-) So enough for birds and others

  4. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Lynne, if it stops raining you should give it a go. I’ve put links to other versions as well as ours involves sterilising the bottles after filling which is a bit involved.

    The flowers are really tiny Celia, and they have a golden yellow tint to them, unlike cow parsley which is greyish.

    Ulrike, are you going to make some too? I bet you are going to make elderflower sorbet or something delicious like that :)

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