I found myself alone on the train up to Dublin last week. The sun was beaming, the clouds were in exile and I spent the whole journey staring out the window. I wasn’t longing to be out playing football like the boys in Ballinasloe, nor did I want to be sunbathing like the women in their back garden in Athlone. No, instead I found myself amazed at the amount of elder trees weighed down with flowers wondering why they hadn’t been picked. Every where I looked I could see an elder tree and the few hour long journey was quite a pleasant one as I watched all these trees fly past me without a single flower missing. Did people really not know about the wonderful flavour these flowers give to ice creams, sorbets, custards and nearly everything else. Was I the only person that knew that elderflower cordial is possibly the most awesome and rewarding thing that you can make. I really don’t know. Anyway the elder flowers are still on the trees so get out their and make one of these recipes or else you’ll have to wait till next year.
Add about 75 elderflower heads with most of the green stalk cut off into a very large bowl along with 4 cut up lemons and 200g citric acid and pour over a boiling sugar syrup made with 5kg sugar and 3.5 litres of water. Leave to steep for 24 hours and then strain through muslim and bottle.
Pour the contents of a good quality white wine vinegar into a saucepan and warm up until just hot. Stuff the empty bottle with elderflowers. Fill up the bottle with the hot vinegar, seal and leave to infuse for a week. Add the drained vinegar into a clean bottle after a week.
This recipe is from Darina Allen’s forgotten skills book. Sieve 110g flour into a bowl, add 1 egg and whisk whilst adding 150ml lukewarm water to form a batter. Hold the flowers by their stalks, dip into the batter, let the excess batter drain off and then dip into hot oil until crispy and golden. Drain on kitchen paper, toss in caster sugar and serve immediately.