For those looking for a non-alcoholic drink in the springtime, this one takes some beating. Be sure to pick your flowers on a dry day.
Serve diluted in still or sparkling water, or with lemonade.
You can also dilute 1 part cordial to 2 parts water and freeze it in lolly moulds for a lovely springtime treat.
- 25 elderflower heads, in full bloom
- 4 lemons
- 500g granulated sugar
- 1.5L water (boiled)
Place the flower heads into a bucket, along with the zest and juice of the lemons.
Pour over the water, cover with a teatowel and leave overnight.
Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth and put it into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and bring to the boil.
Pour into warm, sterilised bottles.
Refrigerate and use within a few weeks or freeze in plastic bottles for longer storage.
Elderflowers announce the coming of summer. You can find them growing almost everywhere. The bulk of the bush is poisonous, containing cyanide, but the flowers and the berries are perfectly safe to eat.
They complement the tartness of the gooseberry, which happens to ripen at just the same time.
- 6 elderflower heads
- 300g gooseberries
- 3 tablespoons of caster sugar
- 200ml double cream
Heat the elderflowers, gooseberries, and sugar, in a pan, with a splash of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, until the gooseberries start to break up.
Rub through a sieve into a bowl.
Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the gooseberry and elderflower puree.
Divide into glasses and chill for a couple of hours before serving.
This recipe is great heated, but not boiling, with a jar of honey, a few cloves, some grated nutmeg, ¼ pint of water and the juice and rind of a lemon. Add half a small bottle of brandy before serving. Drink whilst still warm.
We drink this every Christmas when family visit and we always run out!
You can also make this one with just elderberries or just blackberries.
- 800g elderberries
- 800g blackberries
- 4.5l water (boiled)
- 1.5 kg granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pectic enzyme
- 1 tsp of red wine yeast
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1 campden tablet (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fermentation stopper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Bentonite (optional)
Put all the berries into a large bucket and crush witha rolling pin. Add the sugar, pectic enzyme and cover with 4.5l boiled water. Stir well.
Once cool, make a note of your gravity.
Add your yeast and nutrient and cover loosely for 1 week before straining into a demijohn with an airlock.
When fermentation ends (bubbles passing through the airlock at less than one a minute) add a crushed campden tablet and fermentation stopper, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.
After 3 days clear the wine by adding bentonite, if using, as per the instructions on the packet.
Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.
Finally, syphon the wine into bottles and cork.
Age for a minimum of 6 months before drinking, but a year is better.
September is one of my favorite times of the year, as I get to spend a lot of time outside foraging for fruit. I use this basic recipe for various flavoured liquors. You could also try blackberry whisky, crab apple vodka or rose-hip vodka using the same quantities.
- 350g Sloes
- 175g granulated Sugar
- 700ml gin
Wash your fruit and pick out any leaves, twigs, or insects.
Put them into a Kilner jar and cover with the sugar.
Pour over the gin and put the lid on.
Shake the jar to mix in the sugar. Shake once a day, for a few days, until the sugar remains dissolved.
After 3 months decant into bottles through a funnel lined with a muslin cloth.
Whilst you can drink this straight away, it does benefit from ageing for a year or more, if you can wait that long.
This is a low alcohol recipe for a light summer fizz.
Every story I know about exploding bottles seems to be connected with this brew. Only store this in plastic soft drink bottles and check regularly that the pressure isn’t building up too much, releasing some of the gas if necessary.
This one relies on naturally occurring yeast present in the flowers. Be sure to pick your flowers on a dry day.
- 800g granulated sugar
- 6L water
- 10 elder-flower heads, in full bloom
- 4 lemons
In a large bucket, dissolve the sugar in 2L of boiled water. Once dissolved top up with 4L of cold water.
Add the flowers and the juice and rind of the lemons.
Wait for a few days and if your brew hasn’t starting to bubble you may need to add a pinch of champagne yeast.
After 6 days of fermenting, strain the liquid through a muslin cloth into sterilised plastic soft drink
bottles. Store somewhere safe, that won’t cause too much damage, like the shed.
After a week, refrigerate. Open the bottles carefully and serve with ice