There is a fantastic pair of elderflower ‘Black Lace’ bushes, albeit ~ 12 foot tall, growing on either side of the entrance to the Soame greenhouse in the walled garden at Wimpole. I pass them all of the time, but for the past 4 weeks they have smelt absolutely delicious. They have been loaded with flowers and have been stopping visitors in their tracks, quite literally, with their wonderful fragrance and pretty pink umbels.
Since I had just made a batch of normal elderflower fizz using a recipe from my trusty, old ‘Making the most of it’ book by Theodora Fitzgibbons from a hedgerow harvest, I got to wondering whether the exotic ‘Black Lace’ would make the same kind of fizzy drink, but taste different. So I asked permission to take a dozen heads of the flowers home to try and this is what happened …
(I’ve had to take some liberties with the process though, because it was spur of the moment decision to make the drink and I hadn’t been collecting bottles etc. So I’ve used the same quantities of everything as usual, except water. The mixture was started at quadruple strength to keep volumes down and my plan was to divide the liquid each time a new bottle became available, until the correct dilution was reached.)
Here are the flowers during the brewing process: 24hrs mixed with lemon, sugar and a little wine vinegar:
You can see already that the colour has transferred to the liquid. At the next stage the mixture is strained into those hastily collected bottles.
Below I’ve shown the original elderflower pop (two weeks older) with the newly bottled Black Lace (still quadruple concentration). Such a lovely difference!
With each dilution and transfer to new bottles the drink has become paler and now, at its final strength, it looks like rose lemonade.
Happily, the mixture is indeed beginning to fizz, but it doesn’t seem to be as vigorous as the normal batch yet.
Now it is two weeks since I made the drink and I have tried a little taste today (really the earliest you can do this without it tasting just like sugar water) and I found that it does have a different flavour. ‘Black Lace’ elderflower pop tastes more fruity (apples and strawberries) under the normal elderflower notes.
And I compared it with a sample of (the two weeks older) standard elderflower fizz. This drink is slightly drier, with more citrus overtones. I am optimistic for both.
Now I must wait a month or two before it tastes its best, but all the signs so far are good.