As promised, here are my elderflower recipes. The season has started, so you better hurry if you want to cook with them too – these small white flowers only appear for a few weeks once a year. In the UK, the season runs from the end of May until mid June.
While we were in Somerset last weekend, the trees were in bloom everywhere we looked, so between trips to the dining table and splashing in the hot tub, a couple of us went foraging. We picked about 50 heads, rejecting anything that looked slightly brown, before hitting the kitchen. First up, we had a stab at the fritters – I’d learnt to make them last year and was desperate to give them another go.
This is another recipe that’s really impressive and simple. Too easy.
24 heads of freshly blooming elderflowers (no brown bits!)
200g plain flour
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus more for cooking.
2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar (optional)
350mls sparkling water (add more if needed)
2 egg whites.
Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the oil, water and the sugar (if you want them extra sweet). Set aside you batter for at least 30 minutes.
Shake your elderflower heads do get rid of any insects – don’t dunk them in water as this can damage the petals and wash away some of the flavour.
Just before you’re ready to cook, beat the egg whites with a fork and stir it into the batter.
Fill a deep frying pan with two inches of vegetable oil and heat it up. To test that the oil is hot enough, break off a small stem of petals, dunk them in the batter, hold them by the stem above the bowl so most of it drips off, and put them the oil. If the batter puffs up and quickly turns golden, you’re ready to go with the big guys.
Begin by holding an elderflower head by its stem, dunk the flowers in the batter until they’re all covered, hold over the bowl by the stem until most of the batter drips off, and put the flowers in the oil. The stem acts as a very handy handle (as you can see below).
Leave in the oil until the batter is golden. Once cooked, remove and place on kitchen towel to drain off the oil.
Repeat for the remaining elderflower heads.
Eat straightaway – they’re only good when they’re fresh and crispy.
super quick elderflower cordial
My friend and co-chef suggested that we have a stab at elderflower cordial too. Our aim: gin, tonic and elderflower cocktails. What a brilliant idea! The only problem – every recipe we found required overnight steeping and we only had three hours. We decided to give it a stab anyway by upping the number of elderflower heads and amount of lemon zest we used and reducing the water and sugar. And, while it didn’t yield a massive amount of liquid, it was flavoursome in the drinks and we each got to take about 250mls home. Not bad, eh?
24 elderflower heads
Grated zest of two lemons
500g golden caster sugar
Give the elderflowers a good shake to liberate any insects.
Place them in a large saucepan with the lemon zest.
Pour 750mls of boiling water over the flowers, cover with a lid and let it steep for as long as you can. We left it for 2.5 hours.
When you’ve waited long enough, strain the mix and add the sugar.
Pop the mixture on the hob and heat it slowly, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.
Let it cool and mix up a batch of gin and tonics and add cordial to taste.
What do you think? Sound good?
© Kate McAuley