Tuesday 24 June 2008

Nothing doing

The vegetable garden displayed.

The el cham has failed. Despite my hopes for it when I bottled it a couple of days ago it has developed a nasty mould on the top and I'm going to have to bin it. I knew those flowers were against me.

Just as well then I made some Elderflower Cordial. A slug of that in a glass topped up with fizzy water will be almost as nice and will give a more concentrated flavour that will be useful for sorbets and puddings.

The basic recipe is available all over the place but first I'd like to say a few words about citric acid. This can be hard to get nowadays after it was discovered that drug dealers were using it to cut crack and make their wares spread further.

Pity, however if you need some it's still available from bona fide brewing suppliers. Boots on the other hand will likely laugh in your face and/or call the cops so don't waste your time there.

It's not actually essential and I don't like the tang it gives in the quantities usually recommended so my recipe cuts right back. If you have to leave it out altogether chuck in the juice from a couple more lemons, the only difference will be a more lemony taste.

To make a bit more than 1.5 litres you will need:

20 large clusters of elderflowers
2 large lemons
1 litre water
1kg white sugar
15 - 20g citric acid

Shake the insects out of your flowers and use scissors to take the frothy white petals away from the stinky stems. A few green stalks don't matter. Finely slice your unwaxed well washed lemons and throw them into a food grade lidded plastic container with the flowers.

Mix your sugar with the water, stirring until dissolved and bring everything to the boil. Pour the boiling liquid onto the flowers and add the citric acid. Give everything a good stir and cover tightly. Allow to infuse in a cool place for 3 or 4 days.

Strain the cordial from the debris. The lemon slices are delicious and should be saved and used in a cake or cocktail immediately, I can even eat them straight from the dish.

Put the cordial into extremely clean glass bottles. This isn't a long keeping preparation. Keep some in the fridge and use up within the month, freeze the rest. I don't like using plastic containers so freeze in an uncapped glass bottle and put the lid on after it's frozen to avoid shattering the glass as the ice expands.

Use the syrup diluted with water or alcohol for summery drinks or use it in cooking at full strength.


Niles said...

I've nearly missed all the flowers on my elder tree in the garden.

I shall have to think of things to do with the berries instead.

Catofstripes said...

It is a bit late but I wanted to record my recipe so I can repeat it next year. It may be late in the year but I'm still getting many hits a day from people interested in the champagne although admittedly they often include the word mouldy in their search terms!

Niles said...

I know you're getting hits on elderflowers - cos loads of them come to my site and my stats show that I refer them on to you for your recipe!

Catofstripes said...

I'd noticed that but a lot come straight from the search engines too. Between us we seem to have the market cornered!

Anonymous said...

I was lucky and my elderflower champagne was fine, no bad for 1st effort.

After 2 days of fermenting and no activity I put into the airing cupboard and that seemed to work. I left for 2 more days and then bottled up. I tasted the brew to make sure it was ok before bottling and it's just as I remember my grandmother making me as a child.

I will now be trying an elderberry wine.

Anonymous said...

Opened 1st bottle last night and served chilled to guests in Champagne glasses, received a glowing review and requests for a free bottle ! Good job I made lots! As we say in the brewing trade it was a good week!

Catofstripes said...

Lee - all I can say is you lucky lucky sod. The stuff we made last year was marvellous and I'm devastated that nothing worked for me this year. I did feel the flowers this year in our part of France were a bit dry and measly even when picked just as they opened.

I've found a late bloomer, maybe I'll give it one last go!

Anonymous said...

I think it's worth another try as its delightful stuff and the ingredients are cheap for the amount you can make.
I had thought my batch had failed until I shoved it into the airing cupboard (nice & warm) and the bubbles started at last.

I watched Hugh (River Cottage) do a batch on TV the other week and his had mould on top but he just scooped the top off and filtered before putting in bottles. Did not seem to harm anything.

I think i used about 15 heads of Elderflowers to 10 litres of water, 2 lemons (rind & juice), 1 kg of sugar (disolved in hot water and left to cool). Plus 2 table spoons of white wine vinegar.

Catofstripes said...

Lee - I've decided against it this year. I'm going to try some ginger beer instead.

The problem with the mould is you can take it off easily enough but you won't remove the spores and tendency to mould so if you don't use it immediately it will tend to turn to nasty flavoured ditch water just before you want it :(

Not long now until the elderberries are ready!

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, I'm not a big fan of ditch water. I think Hugh used all his straight away. Mine was mould free thank goodness.

Next year I will make more elderflower Champagne as everyone seems to want a bottle.

I'm looking forward to making a nice Elderberry wine as well, this will also be my 1st attempt. I think I read somewhere to put other fruit in it like bananas, maybe you could share your recipe.

Anonymous said...

hummmm thinking about it ginger beer sounds really good, should this be with powdered ginger or fresh?

again I look forward to your next posting!

Catofstripes said...

Hi Lee,

Haven't been doing much brewing recently as life has intervened! Will get back to it soon, promise. :)