Pick your elderflowers on a nice dry, sunny day. It is a good idea to smell each flower before picking, if it smells nice pick it. There is no pleasant way of saying it but occasionally some of the flowers smell like cat pee and I don’t mean those close to the ground, whatever you make from elderflowers it will taste how they smell.
This recipe is non-alcoholic and the same as elderflower presse′or lemonade. There is an alcoholic version from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the ‘River Cottage Spring’ recipes, 2nd from the bottom of the page.
If you have never gathered Elderflowers (second photo) before they are on the tallish shrubby bushes or trees.
Do not confuse with Cow Parsley (bottom photo) which is a scrubby plant that grows on grass verges etc and only reaches about 3ft tall.
4-5 elderflower heads
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
The juice and rind of 2 lemons
6 pints water
Mix all the ingredients and allow to steep for 24-48 hours, stir occasionally to make sure the sugar has all dissolved. Strain and bottle in Grolsch bottles, or screw topped bottles. Ideally, the bottles should be sterilised, but I just wash mine very well. Keep for 2 weeks before drinking. (If the champagne is exceptionally fizzy, it may be necessary to open and re-cork the bottles after 1 week to avoid an explosion).
This recipe comes from Wendy’s Shanklin Page which also has instructions for drying elderflowers, elderflower cordial and elderflower fritters.