As the hedgerows start to light up with plate-sized heads of elderflower (Sambucus nigra) waving like a circus act in the gusting winds, it is time to collect or buy bottles ready to make Elderflower Fizz.
Elderflower Fizz is a delicious, sparkling drink that is great for refreshments on a hot summer day. It is a bit floral, a bit lemony and a bit bubbly. In fact after ~6 months it really is Champagne-like (and a little explosive – see below).
Elderflower Fizz Recipe:
Macerate (I like that word – it means steep or soak) about 6 heads of the flowers with the juice and rind of 1 lemon, add 675g sugar, 2 tablespoon of white wine vinegar and 1 gallon (~4litres) cold water. Mix well and leave in cool place covered for 24hrs. Strain off resulting liquid into screw topped bottles and leave for at least a couple of weeks before drinking. The flavour gets better with time, but the pressure can build up quite fast at the beginning, so it is a good idea to unscrew the caps a bit every few days to let the gas out. I used to use glass lemonade bottles, but one time a bottle exploded (it was under the stairs at the time, so apart from a dramatic awakening in the middle of the night and a sticky mess to clear up, it was fine). Now I use and recommend plastic bottles.
Elderflower Cordial Recipe:
900g caster sugar
30g citric acid
10 elderflower heads
Shake the flowers to dislodge any insects, but don’t bother washing them.
Put the sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Add 600ml of boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the citric acid.
Grate the lemon and add rind to the bowl then slice the fruit. Add the lemon slices to the bowl with the elderflower heads. Cover and allow to stand for 12 hours or overnight. Strain through muslin, bottle and store for 1 month before serving.
You can serve it with sparkling water or lemonade for sweeter drink. Serve with lots of ice and lemon.
Citric acid can be a bit of a problem to get hold of these days. You can no longer buy tablets etc. over the counter in a chemist, but a homebrew shop will stock it. I have also found a recipe for cordial that doesn’t use citric acid but does uses a lot more lemon.
In this case the quantities and directions were:
Collect about 25 elderflower heads,
Pared zest of 4 unwaxed lemons, plus the juice
Shake the flowers but don’t wash. Strip the flowers from the stems with a fork and place in a bowl together with the lemon zest. Pour 1.5 litres of water over, cover and leave overnight.
Strain through muslin into a saucepan. Add the sugar and lemon juice, warm and stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for a couple of minutes.
Pour into sterilised bottles and seal. Dilute to taste when drinking, and keep in the fridge once opened.