Tuesday, 30 June 2009

With cordial thanks...

I finally got round to making my elderflower cordial. I would have made it earlier, but could I get citric acid either for love or money? I scoured the length and breadth of Malmesbury High Street – even good old Knees was sold out. It seems everybody had the same idea. The situation was even worse in Chippenham. I discovered there are other, more nefarious uses for citric acid and it's been withdrawn from sale from most of the high-street pharmacy chains.
“Do I look as though I'd be using it to cut cocaine?” I feel like asking. “I'm a respectable middle-aged woman!” Mind you, I'll be looking at those doughty matrons flocking along to the home preserving section at Knees in a different way, now.

Anyway, moving swiftly on... There really is nothing quite like home-made elderflower cordial. Infused with the fresh, delicate and slightly fruity scent of newly opened elderflowers in their very first flush, it's something that can only really be drunk in June. Wait until the flowers are fully open and perhaps just starting to go over, and it will just taste of – well, there really isn't any nicer way of putting it – wee. It doesn't keep, either, even when spiked with a liberal shake of citric acid you've got to drink it up in under a month.

I could have drunk all mine in one sitting, but that would just be greedy. So I've bottled it, and taken it round to say thank you to some of the allotment holders who've been plying me with asparagus and allowing my potatoes squatting rights on their beautifully-tended plots.

“Can you mix it with vodka?” was Adam's first question.

Here's the recipe - if you can find a sheltered elder on a north or east-facing slope, you might just be in time...

25 elderflower heads
3 litres boiling water
900g granulated sugar
2 unwaxed lemons, sliced
50g citric or tartaric acid

Carefully rinse the elderflower heads, picking out any small bugs and place them in a non-metallic bowl or a clean bucket with the sugar and sliced lemons. Pour the boiling water over the top, stir well and leave to cool. Once cooled, stir in the citric acid, then cover the lot with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool, dark place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

The next day, strain the cordial through a muslin-lined sieve and decant into sterilised bottles.

Keep it in the fridge for up to a month.

* * *

Mad as a bag of frogs

There are frogs in Frog Lane – at least there were last night. We were just doing a spot of gardening when my other half shouted over to come and look at something that was shuffling about in the bottom of a bag of compost. There they were, two little frogs looking very hot and slightly distguntled.

“They'll boil in there,” I said, and dragged the bag over to under the bench where there was a bit of shade.

Next morning, it was still hot as hot, and Brown Dog being particularly well-endowed in the fur department was skulking around the garden disconsolately looking for a spot of shade.

Ah yes, I could almost hear him thinking. Under the bench. And he flopped down squarely on top of the compost bag.


  1. Noooo, poor frogs! I bet they were very mad after that, though not flatpacked, I do hope. Elderflower cordial is something I always fancy myself making, but never seem to quite manage it (and not because I have used the citric acid for anything else) so well done you for making it (and not knocking back the lot!). Lovely post (but not for the frogs... I would still like to know how to recognise a disgruntled frog).

  2. I could do with a glass right now. Will swap you for some cider. Last year's apples have been transformed into alcohol. Picking them up sometime this week. J x

  3. had to laugh, 'can you mix it with vodka'

    Even the name sounds lovely and so pretty bottled up! Love asparagus!!! Yummm