Saturday, 14 June 2014

Three (non-cordial) ways with elderflower

There's still a good amount of elderflower to be had so with such a small window of opportunity it's worth making the most of it. I'd suggest that cordial is the best known use for the fragrant flowers, but before they all go consider the following.

The first one is elderflower syrup. With a similar process to make silver birch sap syrup it's just a case of slowly reducing elderflower cordial.  

Elderflower syrup

You may find that your hob has a super small burner to achieve this but I find that it gets a slightly burnt taste even on the lowest of the low on mine. I've found the answer in my impromptu jerky maker. Initially warm the cordial on the hob on a low setting, up to the bubble stage but absolutely no further. Once this is done, remove the pot  from the impromptu jerky maker and place the warmed mixture in it. It actually doesn't take that long  (often a few minutes). 

It takes on the same texture as golden syrup and it is absolutely fantastic on puddings such as vanilla ice cream when cooled.

Perhaps elderflower fritters are the next best known thing to make after cordial...There are many variations on the tempura style batter out there but this one is simple and fairly bombproof.

Gather your elderflower heads, preferably on a sunny day. Shake them gently to release the elderflower scented bugs. Break them into fritter sized florets...It's up to you what size they are. I've seen some recipes that suggest pulling off a long section of branch to act as a handle to pull the fritters out of the oil. Rather brutish towards the tree for my money.

As well as the elderflowers, the ingredients needed are: Really chilled carbonated water,  , one egg (about one mug full), plain flour (about three quarters of a mug full), mild tasting oil for frying and a small plate of icing sugar (optional). Pour the oil into a small saucepan (it only needs to be deep enough to cover the flowers which go in upside down). 

Mix the egg and carbonated water together and beat briskly until well mixed. Add the flour and mix until it's all combined and it should still look fairly watery. Put the light under the oil about now...and stay with it! Holding the stalk dip the heads in until well coated.

Do take care from hereon in, hot oil and fried products alert!

drop a small blob of batter into the oil to test that it's hot enough, if it gets a bubbly reception you can start on the real thing. It only takes a minute or two to be done so do check it. Using kitchen tongs, take it out when it's crispy but not brown and then straight onto absorbent kitchen roll. Dipping it in icing sugar at this stage is optional for the sweet of tooth.

 Dab the fritters gently and remove the crusty bits from the oil every now and then or they do have a habit of levitating onto subsequent fritters. These scraps remind me of Wednesday lunchtimes in town at senior school in Skegness when my dinner was chips, frying scraps and gravy, and all for 15p...But I digress. When they come out one extra thing you can do is to lightly dip them in icing sugar if you have a sweet tooth, or like me you find the fritters a little overrated/ underwhelming. 

The finished product on the chinzy material. and onto the cleaning to keep the other half happy.

Elderflower Turkish delight

Measure out 350-400ml of home made cordial and in a seperate bowl start a packet of gelatine sheets soaking in a small amount of cold water (this was a 25g pack). Pour yourself a glass of cordial and quaff whilst waiting the five or so minutes the gelatine sheets need to turn to a gloop.

Gently squeeze the gelatine to remove any excess water and add to a saucepan, followed by the cordial. If you make Turkish delight with just a flavouring you'll need to add sugar but as the cordial has plenty there's no need. Place on a low light and warm gently for a few minutes until it's an opaque blended liquid. Lightly grease a piece of parchment paper lined bowl with a neutral tasting oil-vegetable in this case.

Skim off any scum from the liquid before carefully pouring into the lined bowl. Leave for a few ours or overnight to set. Start cutting the block into small pieces whilst smelling it close up every now and then and going 'Mmm'. I'd suggest trimming the rough edges off first and scoffing them yourself. No one needs to know.


Tip the cubes into a bowl of cornflour and icing sugar in a ratio of about 3:1 (icing sugar alone will just turn invisible and sticky on it's own). Make sure they are coated and repeat if necessary if any look to have areas that are missed.


Take outside and do a posy shot with the sun shining through one, then turn round and look at the mess you've then got to clear up...Again. I reckon the syrup and delight would work well with this cordial too...


  1. Very interested in trying some of these.
    Cheers bud.

  2. Let us know how you get on, not long until the flowers are ready :)