Monday, 7 July 2014

Summer and the Elderflower

In Ireland, we are coming to the end of our elderflower season. For a few precious weeks in June and July, roadsides and hedgerows are alive with a profusion of white blossoms from the elderberry tree (Sambucus nigra).

We will have to wait a few more months before the harvest of juicy black berries are ready to be made into jams, jellies and syrups. In the meantime, the elderflower can be turned into a number of different and delicious recipes.

I had never picked elderflowers before. Like many people, I never saw their use as an ingredient. Though not as multipurpose as the berry, I found a number of recipes to experiment with. After harvesting a bumper crop from along the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin, I decided to try my spin on some recipes I found online.

The first of these was Elderflower Pancakes. After washing the elderflower heads, I pulled the heads into small branches. I made an ordinary pancake batter; my favourite recipe is as follows:

100g white spelt flour
300g Avonmore Lactose-free milk
1 large organic free range egg
Add elderflower branches to taste

The taste is somewhat sharp and a little acrid, so I recommend serving with honey or syrup. I had mind with Crowe's Organic Bacon and fresh Irish strawberries.

Another handy use for elderflower is Elderflower Cordial:

15-20 elderflower heads
300g caster sugar
3-4 lemons 
600ml water

Wash elderflower heads and remove petals. Melt sugar in boiling water and add syrup to elderflower petals. Add lemon juice leave overnight to infuse and pour into sterilised bottles. Store in fridge for up to six weeks.

Elderflower cordial can be used to make delicious desserts such as elderflower and lemon sorbet. It can also be added to lemon juice, club soda and ice and garnished with mint for a refreshing summer drink.

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