There are probably only a couple of days left of elderflower picking. Certainly here in South Devon, the creamy-white blooms are starting to fade and turn brown and a little musty smelling - upcountry folks might have better luck.
My basket of blooms - far more than was needed:
I decided to make a batch of cordial, which really is one of the simplest recipes in the world. I used the River Cottage Preserves cookbook recipe (a similar recipe has been reproduced here on Nipitinthebud's great blog) which just involves lots of sugar, lemon juice and elderflowers. Leave the cordial to infuse overnight and the next day it was ready to strain and use.
It’s a joy to drink this with sparkling water and plenty of ice on a summer’s afternoon, and even more fun spiked with vodka, a sprig of mint and a handful of raspberries during the evening. The cordial was a doddle and here it is - four bottles for immediate drinking and a further one litre in the freezer.
I’m a little more concerned about the Champagne....I’ve toyed with Pastymuncher’s ideas but decided to use Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for this and there are MANY MANY worrying comments about Champagne explosions, glass being embedded in bookcases and C02 eruptions that have hit the ceiling. Grazing Kate has been 'very brave' and made six litres of the stuff...Mix it all together, leave for about four days until it starts to ferment (very exciting – that happened today) - those white bloom areas that look like reflections are the signs either that it's working or that it's mouldy and it's all gone horribly wrong (I'm an optimist and bottled the stuff!):
and then strain it into PLASTIC bottles. Granted, the lovely swing top Grolsch style bottles look far more attractive than this (hmm, nice presentation in the Asda bottle)
But shards of exploded glass embedded in my furniture and skin? – Er, no way! I’ve done a bit of research and plan to ‘burp’ the bottles every couple of days for a week or so (by gently loosening the screw cap and relieving the pressure) and then it should be ready to drink after a mere seven days. Homemade brew – feels just a little bit naughty, but damn clever if it works.