About three years ago, soon after we bought the land, I also bought a chain saw; the brambles and brush were so thick that the strimmer just wasn’t up to the job. I also had big plans about clearing some of the trees to provide firewood in the future, but that’s another post in itself.
One thing we did have lots of was elderflower, most of it overgrown with wild vines, so out came the chainsaw and I did my best to clear an area round the old house to provide access to the orchard. One thing that I hadn’t anticipated was the elders survival instinct. Every one of the stumps has since coppiced and sent out multiple new trunks and now, three years on, we have more elderflower than we know what to do with.
So what to do with all of this elder? Why not try some beer
Elderflower beer, a work in progress recipe based loosely on the words I found in a book at a garden centre many years ago; who knows how it will turn out!
First of all you need a hot sunny day as that’s the best time to pick the flowers, when they are fully open and dry; pick about one litre of flowers. I pick them on the stalk then use a fork to strip the flowers off.
Six oranges, lemons or grapefruit; ideally a mix. I used two oranges and three lemons as that’s all we had.
A kilo of sugar.
Chop up your fruit and put in a pan with 4.5 litres of water, bring to the boil adding the sugar to dissolve, simmer for about half an hour and leave it to cool.
Once cool add the flowers and leave to steep for a couple of hours then strain the mixture into your chosen receptacle to ferment. There should be enough natural yeast in the elder flowers, but you could add yeast if you wanted to be sure of fermentation. Leave to ferment at around 20c for three or four days
Once fermentation is over, bottle it up and leave in a cool dark place for three or four months.
What does it taste of? I have no idea, I’ll let you know when I crack open the first bottle
Or you could try this great recipe for cordial http://underthelindentree.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/time-for-elder-flowers-and-strawberries/