Elderflower Cordial – Essential Summertime Drink

Mid to late spring is Elderflower season.   These beautiful flowers make the most amazing cordial and it is very simple to make.  Elderflowers are everywhere, once you know what you are looking for, you will spot the trees all the time.  Usually growing along the roadside, near rivers and parks.

 

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Foraged Elderflower

 

Before you head off to find Elderflowers it’s important to know that the Elderberry plant is poisonous.  I don’t want to scare anyone away from making your own cordial but it’s something you should know, and something I wasn’t aware of until I had made my first ever batch last year and had to throw it out.

The leaves, stems and unripe berries of both red and black elderberry species contain cyanide-inducing glycosides which can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body. When using elderflowers, be sure to remove them from all but that smallest stem attachments to keep these toxins out of your food.

When collecting Elderflower, collect the bright white and open flowers.  If they are turning yellow or cream leave them on the tree as they are past their best and not something you want in your cordial.

 

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The flowers on this flower head a nice and white.  However, they still have unopened flowers.  I would leave this flowerhead on the tree.

 

Once you have gathered your Elderflowers for your cordial you will need to take the flowers off the stems.   the easiest way to do this is using your fingers or a fork and gently push the flowerhead into the bowl. See below.

 

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Using a fork to remove the flowers from the stalks.

 

To make your cordial, you will need:

  • 1k  sugar
  •  6 cups boiling water
  • 3 medium lemons, washed
  • 30 large Elderflower heads
  • 55g citric acid
  • one large glass or ceramic bowl or jar
  • sterilised bottles

Preparing your cordial:

  1. Place the sugar into a large bowl or jar ( I have used a very large pickle jar).     Pour the boiling water over the sugar and stir until all the sugar has dissolved, leave to cool.
  2. Peel the rind of the lemons with a peeler and add to the sugar water.
  3. Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the sugar water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the sugar water and stir again.
  4. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours. I usually give it a gentle stir after 24 hours and have a taste.

After 48 hours you are ready to bottle your cordial.

  1. Sterilise bottles in the oven or in a pot of boiling water
  2. Remove lemons from the cordial, strain the cordial through a clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
  3. Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles, seal and store in a cool, dark place.   Once opened keep in the refrigerator.

This cordial is delicious diluted with still or fizzy water.

 

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The finished product, ready to drink or give away as a gift.

 

 

I hope you enjoy making your own Elderflower cordial.

Becks 🍹🍹

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Quince Jelly

Since we have been foraging a lot lately, I thought I would share the recipes that we use when we come across a good one. I also am a bit of a freestyle baker and will chop and change things a little to suit my taste buds.     Before making this Quince Jelly I researched a number of recipes and the reviews on them.  Hoping to find something that was not too time-consuming or overly sweet.

This recipe is a bit of mishmash of a couple of recipes, I reduced the sugar content and I wasn’t too fussy about water levels or draining the liquid overnight.   My finished product was a beautiful rose coloured and very tasty Jelly.

When harvesting Quince, look for yellow fruit without to much fluff left on them, they should smell deliciously fragrant. If they are not quite ripe, but you need to pick them, keep them in the fruit bowl till they ripen,  which should only take a day or so.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ripe quince
  • Water to cover
  • Sugar (measured once you know how much juice you have)
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon

Method:

  • Wash quince and remove any decay from the skins.
  • Chop fruit then place in a large soup pot with the cores and pips.
  • Just cover the chopped fruit with cold water. Bring fruit to the boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
  • If you cook the fruit too quickly it will “mush” and cloud the liquid.
  • Leave the lid on the pan at this stage.
  • Cook for an hour or until fruit is soft and has turned pink.
  • Drain fruit and all the cooking liquid through a piece of muslin cloth.
  • Measure the liquid once it has passed through the cloth. For every one cup of liquid, you will need 3/4 cup of sugar.
  • Bring the liquid to the boil in a clean pot then slowly add the sugar. Do not stir once the sugar has dissolved.
  • Boil gently, allowing the scum to drift to the sides of the pan. Boil for 20 minutes or until a test sample sets on a cold plate.
  • Remove scum with a small sieve or a slotted spoon.
  • Fill sterilised jars then seal
  • Store in a cool, dark place.

If you haven’t made jelly or jam before it’s good to look at YouTube to see how to do a test sample on a cold plate.   When testing the jelly make sure you take the pot off the element.

Like wise if you are unsure of sterilising jars, check YouTube or google for a number of different ways.

Hunting for Nature’s Treasures

“Let’s go and search for rocks mum!”   At the moment rock hunting is what everyone is talking about, well anyone with young children that is.  This is such a wonderful initiative to get families out of the house and into nature.

For those who may not have heard about rock fever – basically, parents and children are going crazy over hunting for painted rocks in parks or anywhere in fact that a rock can be placed safely.  The rock painting is not only for the kids, parents too are getting their creative on and having a go painting too.

With so many families out hunting, sometimes as much as people paint and hide, there are days you go to the park with eager children and there isn’t a rock to be found.

So what do you do when there isn’t a rock to be found and your children are feeling a little flat.    For me I am a hunter/gatherer from way back, I have always loved picking up treasures on my walks around parks and beaches, I love finding feathers, shells, acorns, pinecones and it’s something I have done with my children since they could walk. However, something that I started last Autumn was searching for food treasures or what is know as foraging.

Foraging is something we would do as kids, and Autumn is one of the best seasons to forage for wild foods, there are Autumn berries, mushrooms, walnuts, elderberries, figs, pears, apples, quince that can be all found you just need to keep your eyes peeled.

In Hawkes Bay, we have so many parks, rivers, coastal walkways, bike tracks where we are walking or riding on that have opportunities for foraging.   How many times have you gone to the river and had to walk around blackberry vines?   How many times have you walked past mushrooms growing in the park?  The secret is to walk slow, look up, look down, sideways and see what you can find.   Once you start you will be amazed at all the natural treasures that can be found in our parks and public areas.

A couple of important points to remember while foraging:

  • Identify your fruit, flowers and berries.  If you are unsure of something, don’t just eat it.  Check with some – online pages, books or call into your local garden centre and ask.
  • Don’t go onto private property without asking, there are plenty of places to forage without going and raiding the local apple orchard, or your neighbours lemon tree.
  • Check to see that places you are foraging are free from chemicals and pollution.  You don’t want to be collecting watercress from a polluted stream.

So next time you can’t find rocks at the park, maybe try looking for something a bit different and let me know what you find.   #kidsplaynzforaging

Check out my facebook page for some of the treasures we have found foraging.

https://www.facebook.com/kidsplayNZ

If you want to get in on the rock painting craze check out our two local groups on facebook.

  • Hawkes Bay Rocks  https://www.facebook.com/groups/209885829437311/
  • Hawkes Bay Wandering Stones https://www.facebook.com/groups/wanderingstones/

If you don’t live in Hawkes Bay, most regions, towns and cities have local groups, or you could start one up yourself.