Monday, June 16, 2008

Catching up, and elderflower cordial.

Well, there aren't too many standing out accusingly in bold on my feeds now, though there are of course those who've turned up recently who I haven't yet put on my feeds, and those on my feeds I haven't yet put on my blogroll... but I feel as if I'm something like up to speed again.

It's all over bar the splashing at qarrtsiluni, the editorial decision making is drawing to a close. The water-themed edition will continue to be published until well into July, and it's running at an unprecedented two posts a day, because, though we had to make many a heart-breaking decision and pass over much, we still accepted an enormous number, because they were all so delicious! If you haven't visited, or haven't been lately, please go and look. I feel inordinately proud of it, while being fully aware my overall part in it has been small. It's been a marvellous experience, if not always easy, and I still don't know what all its effects will be on me, but I think they'll be significant. It's been nothing but a privilege to work with the my brilliant and indefatigable, inspired and inspirational, co-editor and managing editors, and perhaps most of all with the writers, poets, artists and photographers who submitted work, I've gained glimpses into worlds I'd never dreamed of ...

Other projects and adventures and things to find out about await, ghazals and Mahima's travelling journal among them. More on these later, no doubt. And of course I really should be painting the back wall-plate and pointing the gable-end of the house this summer...

***
Gorgeous, Moon Walking Bee Drunken, with whom, as she is a Texan in the shires of South-East England, and hence a slightly culturally displaced person, I like to flatter myself I have something in common, often comes with me, virtually, on my walks with Mol. In fact, I would like to have more in common with her elegant, witty, informed, literary prose, she really ought to be writing a column somewhere, to say nothing of her knowledge of snickerdoodle and other baking matters. She enquired about elderflower cordial, and the making thereof, so, that process having just been completed, here is the recipe, with illustrations, before the blossoms go over. I love an opportunity to release my inner food photographer!



Ingredients:

1 kg sugar, I use white as it makes a pretty clear cordial and doesn't impinge on the delicate flavour, but I've seen browner sugars suggested, or some honey might be interesting.

850 ml (1 1/2 pints) boiling water

45g (1 1/2 oz, about four tablespoons ) citric acid, you really do need this, I tried doing without and using extra lemons the first time I made it, and it turned out horribly sweet and started to ferment almost immediately. Get it from the pharmacist.

15 to 20 elderflower heads. Don't pick them too green or in bud, they're difficult to separate from the stalks and will taste of cat's pee. The further blown they are the better, though obviously if they've got too many black bits that's not so nice.

2 sliced lemons.



How to make it:

Strip all the little flowers off the stems. This takes ages, c'est un travail de patience, but I am, relatively, time rich and cash poor. Some suggest doing it with a fork, others with scissors, but in my experience, you can't beat just pulling them off with your finger tips. The aim is to get as little stalk in with them as possible. Remember, white bits of elder = ambrosial perfume and flavour worthy to be drunken by angels, green bits of elder = cat pee.

I have to add this process is probably not recommended for any with a pollen allergy, I have a disgustingly robust constitution as regards anything like that but my nose still tickles and a blocked-up headache lurks at the edges of my awareness for a day or two after I've done it. Your fingers become a delightful dusty yellow.
Finally, you end up with a bowl of fairy confetti.



Put the sugar into a big bowl, and pour on the boiling water. It looks a colossal amount of sugar, which makes you realise how much sugar is contained in commercial drinks and sodas. Stir until it dissolves. Stir in the citric acid, elderflowers, and sliced lemons.



Cover the bowl, and leave to stand for about five days, stirring daily. The stirring is quite important as the lemons have a tendency to catch a bit of mould, so keep an eye out for that, fish'em out if they do. It will make the whole house smell heavenly, and is almost worth doing just for that.

Strain once through a sieve, and again through the sieve lined with muslin, or I use kitchen roll, with plenty of changes. Coffee filter's probably a bit too slow and would block.

This makes about a litre and a half, and although it's not so elegant, it's best to store it in the 'fridge in plastic bottles, a large mineral or tonic water water one is ideal. Elderflowers must contain huge amounts of natural yeasts, as all it really wants to do is ferment. The citric acid inhibits this to a point, as does the cool of the fridge, but it is a wild and mercurial brew, so drink it up quick. Shouldn't be too much of a problem. Dilute it to taste of course, perhaps one part to four or five. It's also very good on strawberries and lemon sorbet.


12 comments:

Peter said...

I know from my co-stint at qarr this time a year ago how much work you did. Though the site seems so much different today -- much more talent and variety. It's really taken off. I've loved some of the poetry I've seen this edition.

Thanks for all of your hard work!

marja-leena said...

Oh yes, thank you for all your work at Q, Lucy! It will be interesting to see what effect it will have on your own writing and photography. Would love a taste of your cordial! That last photo is quite amazing.

Stew said...

I am so on a lission for elderflowers now. Nice One!

jzr said...

This sounds heavenly!! Will have to try it myself!! Thanks!!

rr said...

At last a use for the garden, at least until the hawsers of brambles produce a blackberry crop. Thank you for what looks to be a divine recipe. And I love that last picture particularly.

Lee said...

I must try this when I return home - we have an elderflower tree and I have made wine with the berries but have never used the flowers for cordial. This will change!

Rosie said...

It looks as good as your lime vodka...

Avus said...

Nice - but not alcoholic (unfortunately) - says he who has just downed a very strong glass of G & T!

Lucy said...

Thank you all!

No, not alcoholic, but very nice mixed with wine and soda, rendering a mediocre white or rose a more interesting drink!

Tall Girl said...

Wondrous - L was just wondering how to make this as she has mysteriously aquired boxes of citric acid (not that this will use much of that up)... I also wondered about elderflower champagne... Brother S says he and J made it one year and it was fab. A complains still all these years later he wasn't given any!!

Lucy said...

How happily serendipitous, TG! The citric acid keeps, but it's true a little goes a long way. you could always make lots of regular lemonade, orangeade, strawberryade... and prabably still have plenty left.

Or you could start a distribution network and post it out to other people eager to make elderflower cordial after reading this post, but you might attract attention sending little packets of white powder through the post...

Bee said...

I cannot wait to try this, Lucy. I shall feel like a proper countrywoman, in touch with the seasons -- when I'm out there foraging in the hedgerows, and then plucking off flower heads.

I shall report back! (Thank you for the recipe -- and the kind words, too.)

BTW, I'm delighted you feel "refreshed" by your exposure to talented poets and such . . . but also glad that you have returned to regular blogging.