A Taste of Summer

The last week has been a bit of a mixed bag weatherwise, probably because my mum has been here and it always seems to rain when she visits (as if to confirm for her that we should never have taken this risk, upping sticks and moving west), but yesterday afternoon saw a return of the sunshine and I decided to take the kids for a stroll.  Admittedly there was an ulterior motive for the wander, I wanted to collect some elderflowers to make one of my summer favourites, elderflower cordial, but the kids didn’t need to know that.

As anyone that’s read my posts before will know, we’re lucky enough to live slap bang in the country and so we can go foraging right outside the gate, actually we can forage in the garden as well, as we have an elderflowers and sloes in the front hedgerow – but that’s just me showing off.

Elderflower walk 004

So we set off for a short walk down the lane, which the kids soon decided needed to be extended to a slightly longer walk down to the river, which the kids then decided was far too long and I was a very cruel mummy for making them do it, especially when I had only brought one chocolate snack and carton of juice for each of them.  The girl continuously checked my bag as she really couldn’t believe that more food wouldn’t have magically appeared within it, and the boy just stopped functioning completely, instead collapsing into a heap in the middle of the track next to the river.  I’ve decided to try and avoid being drawn into his stop start style of walking and carry on regardless, which resulted in a grandma’s footsteps walk back, where every time I looked over my shoulder he stopped and then scurried on whilst I was looking forwards.  Eventually he did catch up, and in a magical burst of speed actually overtook us, until a huge muddy puddle distracted him.  The boy in crocs and no socks.  I carried on past; “Don’t go in there, it looks a bit cow pooey”.  But of course, telling him not to do it was my downfall, and in he went.  It’s not really the end of the world, I remember being a barefoot child who couldn’t resist mud and, deep down, I actually prefer them to have a good layer of grime after a venture out as it speaks to me of good times and wild children.  In fact as a grown up I don’t mind developing my own layer of grime, one the things I struggled most with attending music festivals in my late 20’s, was that people actually showered at them AND wore make up…don’t even get me started on heels at festivals.  I have many happy memories of getting the bus home after festivals in my late teens, and people sidling away from me due to the festival tang I exuded.  However the puddle did look cow pooey.  That is the only justification I have for telling him not to go in it.  That and the fact he’d narked me off walking so slowly.

Anyway we eventually made it home with a decent haul of elderflowers, the boy was muddy, the girl surprisingly not so, until we got into the yard and then she managed to cover herself in chicken poop – which stinks, as I found out a few weeks ago when I managed to get some on my hand, which I then kept putting to my face as I’d forgotten about the poo hand (there was alcohol involved).  The haul of elderflowers was so good that I also decided to try my hand (washed since the poo incident) at making some elderflower champagne as well as the cordial.  I have pinched both of the recipes from a fellow bloggers site (whatnaomididnext.com), I’ve previously made elderflower cordial using a Good Food recipe, but it didn’t make as much as the link above and so I thought I’d give it a try.

What I love about making cordials and booze from foraged food is the amount you get for very little cost, cordials are also really easy to make.  I dissolved 2.5kgs of sugar in 2.5 litres of water and then brought it to a boil, once it had boiled I removed it from the heat and added the elderflowers, lemon zest, sliced lemons and citric acid, and then left it to steep for 24 hours.

Elderflower walk 030

I bottled it this afternoon in swing top glass bottles which we’d had some M&S drinks in a few years before and kept for cordial making purposes.

Elderflower walk

Admittedly it looks like a bit like a urine sample, but I can assure you it tastes amazing, and screams of summer.  It also screams of the need to think up some fancy cocktails; that may be my job over the weekend.

The elderflower champagne was equally easy to make, I dissolved 800g sugar in 2 litres of warm water in a brewing bucket, added another 3 litres of water and allowed it to cool before adding the elderflowers (I added a couple more heads than in the recipe, because we had them), lemon zest, lemon juice and yeast.  This is now all fermenting away in the spare room.  From the look of the recipe this should be a pretty quick turnaround drink and so hopefully we should be bottling this in a week or so (into some plastic water bottles which I’ve been putting away to make the kids a pouffe) and drinking it not too long after.  Now we just need some more sunshine for an excuse to get the BBQ out and the champagne quaffed – a perfect start to the summer.

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