June 2020 – Recipes (Elderflower Vodka, Elderflower Cordial, Elderflower Fritters)
It’s been quite a year for watching the wildflowers around these parts, and with elder (Sambucus nigra, otherwise known as elder, boortree, boontree, borewood, and even dog tree) growing rife along the streamside park that edges our property, and all around the perimeter of the watermeadows it seemed like a good idea to do a little foraging and then cook or otherwise use what I found.
I did some digging and found a recipe for elderflower gin, which is no use to me because I really do not like gin. If I wanted that taste in my mouth I’d bite a juniper berry. I don’t. However, it’s been my experience over the years that you can usually replace gin with vodka for a much more pleasing effect. So elderflower vodka it would be. On one of our walks, I managed to gather enough elderflower within a stone’s throw of home, and so set about making a delicately flavoured vodka. Here’s the recipe.
- 6 sprigs of fresh elderflower
- 120g of sugar
- 1000ml of plain vodka
- Muslin cloth or jam strainer
- Sterilised 1000ml jar (or enough smaller jars to take 1 litre of liquid)
- Sterilised bottle
- Brush any bugs off the elderflowers.
- Place in a sterilised jar with the sugar and vodka and seal.
- Shake up the jar to dissolve the sugar and leave to steep for 24 hours.
- Strain the vodka through a muslin cloth and transfer to a sterilised bottle. Best enjoyed within 1 month.
Notes: I needed to shake the jars several times in the first couple of hours to get the sugar to fully dissolve.
- 25 sprigs of fresh elderflower
- 3 litres water
- 2 lemons, rinds and juice
- 1kg sugar
- 10g of citric acid
- Place the elderflower heads and lemon rinds in a large bowl.
- Boil the water and pour over the elderflower, cover and infuse overnight
- Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or preferably a piece of muslin.
- Bring the liquid to the boil with the sugar, citric acid and lemon juice and boil for 2 minutes.
- Allow to cool before decanting into sterilised bottles.
Notes: The cordial will keep for up to a month in the fridge and freezes well. I froze most of it in individual ice cubes. They don’t freeze especially solid and are very sticky, but throwing a couple of them into a glass of cold water makes a very refreshing drink, especially if you give it a good stirring.
Finally, today, with the flowers rapidly turning into nascent berries I decided if I was going to make elderflower fritters it was now or never. I managed to gather enough on the way back from my morning run, so I threw them into a bowl of cold water and left them till this evening. The batter was quick and easy to make and more like a tempura batter in its lightness. The cooking time was very quick, around a minute, and the results were sweet, crispy and light, with lots of little holes giving the fritter a lacet appearance. They’re going on the menu next spring, that’s for sure.
Elderflower Fritters with Honey
Time: 15 mins
- 16 elderflowers heads
- Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 100g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 2 tsp golden caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 175ml sparkling water
- Icing sugar
- Orange blossom honey or any good quality honey
- Cut away any elderflower stalks, just leaving the head still joined together. Half-fill a large saucepan with oil and set over a medium heat – you want it to reach 180C on a temperature probe.
- While the oil is heating, mix together the flours, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Beat together the egg and sparkling water. Make a well in the centre of the flour, then slowly pour in the wet mixture, whisking until combined – you want it to be lumpy. You’ll need to use the batter immediately.
- Dip the elderflower heads into the batter, then drop into the hot oil, a few at a time. Cook for 30 secs-1 min until golden, then remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Dust generously with icing sugar and drizzle over some honey. Eat straight away, while crisp.