Tag

preserving

Food & Drink, Summer

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

elderflower cordial
elderflower cordial

Want to know my secret elderflower cordial recipe? Read on for the full details!

Can you believe I’ve been waiting to share this elderflower cordial recipe with you for a whole year?  I made this boozy elderflower cordial at the peak of elderflower season last year.  However, I didn’t want to share it before tasting it in case it didn’t taste right.  By the time it was ready and had the Moral Fibres seal of approval, elderflower season was over.

As it tasted so good, this year I thought I’d share the homemade elderflower cordial recipe early on in the season.  This means there’s plenty of time for you to go out and pick!  Here in Edinburgh, the elderflowers are just coming out into bloom at the moment.  If you’re further south they may in bloom already.

how to make elderflower cordial

Step One – Foraging for Elderflowers

elderflower picking

My secret elderflower foraging spot!

First up you’ll need to find and pick your elderflowers.   Elderflowers are pretty ubiquitous around the UK and are likely to be found in woods, besides rivers or canals, in graveyards, etc.  Another common place is beside roads, but I’d tend to avoid picking beside busy roads.

Elderflowers are quite easy to spot.  Look for a flowering bush, with delicate white flowers and a distinct sambuca-like smell.  If in doubt I found a handy elderflower identification guide that you might find useful.  If you’re still in doubt don’t pick anything and ask an expert!

what do elderflowers look like

This is what you’re looking for!

Once you’ve found your elderflowers bear in mind it’s best to pick elderflowers on a dry sunny day, in the morning, when the flowers are at their most fragrant.  This apparently translates to a richer sweeter flavour, but if it’s late afternoon don’t worry too much!  Avoid picking at ground level (dogs!) – instead, pick from the higher branches.  You also want to make sure that you pick nice creamy white flower heads.  Anything brown or a bit discoloured may taste a bit bitter.

Give the flowerheads a good shake before you put them in your bag to dislodge any insects, and try not to pick from just the one bush.  The elderflower cordial recipe calls for about fifteen elderflower heads.

Step Two – The Elderflower Cordial Recipe

homemade elderflower cordial

Boozy Elderflower Cordial Recipe

This boozy elderflower cordial is smooth and mellow, and is the perfect taste of summer all year round. Serve with tonic or soda water, or lemonade, or serve straight up over ice.

Ingredients

  • A 1 litre capacity jar
  • About 15 elderflower heads see above for how to identify and pick elderflowers
  • 1 litre of cheap generic vodka
  • One large lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar

Instructions

  1. Dip your elderflowers in water and give them a good shake to dry. Peel a lemon, and keep the peel to the side.
  2. Then add your flowers to a sterilised jar, adding the lemon peel as you go so it’s evenly distributed in the jar. Keep going until you’ve added as much elderflower as the jar will hold and all of the lemon peel.
  3. Add 5 teaspoons of sugar, about 5 mls of juice from your lemon, and pour in the vodka until you’ve completely submerged all of the elderflowers. Screw the lid on and give the jar a good shake.
  4. Leave for four weeks in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally to mix the sugar in.
  5. During the four weeks it’s really worth occasionally opening your jar to check that the vodka is still covering the elderflowers otherwise the top ones might go a bit brown and make it taste a bit bitter. If this happens just take out the brown flowers and top up with more vodka.
  6. Once your four weeks are up sieve your mix to remove the flowers and lemon peel, and decant your flavoured vodka into a sterilised bottle or jar. It will keep for onwards of a year!

You can drink your cordial straight over ice, or add some lemonade, tonic, or soda water (see my guide to ethical soft drinks for some of the best ones) for a refreshing summer drink.

You can also add any flavours you want to your elderflower cordial.  I added a punnet of local raspberries in another jar and it turned out beautifully.  Elderflower cordial tastes like summer at the best of times, but the addition of raspberries was extra summery!  Strawberries, cherries or blackberries would also work well, I’d imagine.  However, blackberries are never ready here in Edinburgh in time for elderflower season!

I got a bit carried away and ended up with three large jars of elderflower cordial!  I had intended to give some of it away, but, ahem, that didn’t quite happen…!   I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that after a year this is all we have left of our supply:

elderflower cordial recipe

Needless to say I’ll be out elderflower foraging in the next few weeks, and getting funny looks at the local shop for buying so much vodka!

Hope you enjoy this elderflower cordial recipe – bottoms up!

ps: keep an eye out for elderberries later in the season.  You can make this delicious non-alcoholic spiced elderberry syrup from them!  I made a small batch last year, which we used up far too quickly.  I have made a mental note to make triple what I made as it was just incredible (and I’m not 100% certain if it was down to the syrup but I didn’t catch a cold once over the winter season…).

And, if you liked this, do try my cranberry and orange infused gin recipe.  It’s one of my very favourites!

Food & Drink, Food Waste Tips

How To Dry Mushrooms In The Oven

how to waste less food

Want to know how to dry mushrooms in the oven? Read on for my failsafe guide.

I don’t know about you but mushrooms are something that I have trouble using up.  I don’t enjoy eating raw mushrooms, only cooked ones. As such, more often than not quite a few go slimy in the fridge before I have a chance to use them.  I’ve been trying to think of an idea to stop so many going to waste, and came across the idea of drying mushrooms in the oven.  This handy tip came via Cooking On A Bootstrap and what a revelation that has been!

how to dry mushrooms in the oven

It’s really easy to dry mushrooms in the oven. And then they last for absolute ages until you’re ready to use them.  Dried mushrooms are brilliant for adding to pasta sauces, soups, stews, casseroles, and chilis. They add texture to any vegetarian or vegan meal and impart a wonderful flavour to any vegetarian or meaty dishes.

The other really great thing is you can dry them in the oven while you’re cooking something else in the oven to save energy.  Here’s what I did with a pack of near slimy mushrooms:

How to Dry Mushrooms in the Oven

how to dry mushrooms in the oven

How to Dry Mushrooms

Learn how to oven dry mushrooms with this really useful tutorial – never throw an off mushroom away again!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms

Instructions

  1. Clean your mushrooms (you can use any type of edible mushroom) – I just used a dry towel to clean them, but if yours are particularly dirty and need washing make sure you give them a good dry after washing.
  2. Chop into half an inch thick slices. If you slice them thicker then they’ll take longer to dry out, so remember to adjust your cooking time. Some of the stalks of mine are missing in the photo above as mine had sat in the fridge for so long, and had gone a bit funny, but otherwise there’s no need to remove the stalks.
  3. Place on a baking tray in preheated 180ºC (gas mark 4) oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, turn over, and place back in the oven for a further 20 minutes, or until dry and the mushroom snaps when you break it in half. They shouldn’t feel spongy, but crispy.
  5. Store in a clean airtight jar in a dark place for years!
dried mushrooms

I generally just add dried mushrooms straight into soups, sauces, etc, as I’m cooking. However, you can soak them in boiling water or stock to reconstitute them first if you prefer.

I love this method so much that I now quite often buy cheap mushrooms from the reduced section of shops just to dry.  I made this vegetarian chili the other week and added some of my mushrooms to it.  What a great addition it made!

If you enjoyed this post I’ve got a few other food waste tips for other types of food in the archives, including bread, milk, eggs, berries and bananas!