The arrival of June heralds the arrival of elderflower season. Elderflowers are probably one of the easiest things to forage for. Even if you live in a very urban area and have never foraged before in your life, it is extremely likely that you will be able to find an abundantly blossoming elderflower bush not far from your doorstep. They are easy to identify too: they have creamy coloured sprays of flowers that smell incredibly perfumed. The leaves come in clusters of five and have pointed tips and serrated edges. The blooms are best picked when they are fully open and still smell fresh, sweet and delicate. The best time to pick is in the on a warm, dry day, ideally in the morning or early evening.
A quick Google of elderflower recipes will show you that the most popular thing to make with elderflowers is elderflower cordial. For the last three years I have attempted to make my own cordial. It seems so simple, so wholesome…
Each year, as I shake the insects off my florets, scattering my kitchen with a small swarm of blackfly and beetles, as I sterilise my glass bottles, I feel like the epitome of domesticity. Sign me up to the WI, enter me to the village show because I am preserving and therefore I am winning at life. I imagine gifting my homemade cordials to friends and relatives, carrying them around in a darling little wicker basket, feeling thoroughly smug and fabulous.
Yet, each year, after having visited three different pharmacies in the hunt for citric acid, my kitchen is sticky and I’m left staring into a bowl of cloudy, slightly brown liquid that smells cat’s piss. Not quite the fantasy I had envisaged. Once strained and bottled, my cordial looks slightly more appealing and it does indeed taste rather delicious. But, within a few days I spot mold spores floating on the top of the liquid and I am left with no choice but to pour the contents down the drain, along with my hopes of winning best in show.
Lemon and Elderflower Posset
Thankfully, this recipe is perfectly delicious with shop bought elderflower cordial so you don't need to go through the ordeal of making your own to enjoy it! The recipe here serves two, generously, but is easily doubled if you need to make more. I like to serve posset with fresh strawberries (as they are also in their prime at the moment) and some shortbread biscuits.
175ml double cream
25ml elderflower cordial
45g caster sugar
45ml lemon juice (approx 1 lemon)
zest 1 lemon
Sliced strawberries and shortbread to serve (optional)
Measure the cream into a medium saucepan with the elderflower cordial and sugar.
Slowly warm the cream over a medium heat to melt the sugar. Allow the cream to come to the boil. Let it bubble for about 30 seconds then remove from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon zest and juice.
Pour into serving glasses and transfer to the fridge to set for at least four hours.
Serve with sliced strawberries and biscuits!