Garden News 31 May 2022
What to do in the garden this week?
Harvest elderflowers to make cordial
In the 31 May 2022 issue of Garden News magazine I harvest elderflowers to make cordial.
Warm summer days, relaxing in the garden with friends, chinking glasses of delicious refreshing drinks are not far away. The thought of a chilled glass of sweet floral syrup conjures up whimsical memories of summer. Make that dream a reality by making your own elderflower cordial.
The Elder tree Sambucus nigra, blooms from mid-May to June so there is plenty of time to harvest its exquisitely scented flowerheads. If you have an elder tree in your garden then you can get picking as soon as your tree flowers, if not forage flowers from wild elder trees.
Make sure you identify your tree correctly. The leaves are serrated and line up in rows opposite each other with umbels are covered in tiny white flowers with five petals.
Only forage what you need. Avoid picking flowers low to the ground where animals may have enjoyed a ‘call of nature,’ leave flowers which are turning brown as they will taste and smell off and choose trees away from traffic fumes; instead pick fresh, fragrant, open blooms packed with pale yellow pollen - they are ready to harvest! Once you are happy with your haul keep them cool, bring them home and crack on with making cordial whilst the flowers are at their peak. Keep cordial in the fridge for two weeks or freeze.
Pick on a dry sunny morning before temperatures get hot or flowers will quickly wilt. Use quickly for optimal freshness.
Gently shake flowers to remove any insects. Stir 1.5kg caster sugar in large pan with 1.5 litres of water. Bring to boil.
Sugar dissolved add 25 elderflower heads, two sliced lemons and 50g citric acid (natural preservative from pharmacist). Cover and leave over night.
Sieve through a tea towel into sterilised bottles. Dilute cordial to taste in water, sparkling water or add to cocktails.
Another job for this time of year is pegging down strawberry runners.
Here are some top tips to generate free plants!
All photos © Debi Holland 2022