Like an elderflower cordial, but just a little bit more fun; the sweet and musky perfume of elderflower pairs perfectly with the classic juniper taste of gin. Serve with cloudy English apple juice & a sprig of mint, or mix with lemonade & freeze for some very grown-up ice lollies.
I read that the optimum blooms to pick are those just beginning to open, like the flower shown above; certainly, as they get a little older the flowers begin to turn brown and drop, and this seems to be when that characteristic cat-pee fragrance can sneak in.
I found plenty at the right, sweet-smelling stage, and some a little earlier, so I’m officially declaring this week optimum elderflower-picking season in Northern England. Baskets at the ready! (although a Tesco bag will suffice)
- 700ml bottle of gin
- around 20 elderflower heads, woody stems & bugs removed
- zest of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp sugar
- Pour the gin into a sterilised bottle or jar.
- Add the sugar, seal and shake well until sugar dissolves.
- Open again and add the flowers - ideally just the blooms, and no stems. Swirl gently.
- Store in a cool, dark place for about a week. Give a gentle shake or swirl whenever you're passing.
- After 7 days, pour the gin through a clean tea towel to thoroughly strain. Return to the bottle and chill before serving.
If you’d rather not imbibe, I suggest trying Julia’s cordial and Emma’s elderflower syrup – I haven’t tried either but their lovely photography is enough to convince me.
In honesty, though, even if you never get around to drinking it, the quiet pleasure of pinching off a thousand tiny blooms, of a table scattered in dainty white stars, and the excuse to mix up the magic potions of childhood games again are all enough to make this a worthwhile waste of any Sunday afternoon. Give it to a loved one or a friend, wrapped up for a wedding, or stash it in your freezer for a splash of sunshine on a rainy day.