Plates: (or glasses) Elderflower Spritz
Fragrant, refreshing and sweet, Elderflower is the scent of summer. A tall glass packed with ice, a generous glug of elderflower cordial and topped with chilled water or soda water and garnished with fresh mint and slices of lemon. That’ll keep the sunstroke away! It's time to make our own...
We all reach for the bought stuff but you couldn’t believe how easy it is to make yourself.
Elder trees are everywhere in the UK, you can’t drive a mile without spotting one in bloom at the moment. Straight forward to spot, their bunches of tiny white flowers are flat topped, spanning out like a dinner plate - a dinner plate for bees that is (apparently it is so the pollen doesn’t fall!) Of course, you can confirm it’s elderflower by the heady sweet smell.
The time is now. Elderflowers burst into life at the end of May through to late June. Which meant that while Boris, Biden and the rest of the UK were on the coast, I was in a hedge. It turns out the Deia Collection is not made for foraging, perhaps the instagramable kind of foraging but when you have to wade through brambles and nettles waist deep, you can guarantee to rip your short, shirt and shins to shreds. Re-emerging with a boiler suit and boots, my mission was underway. Armed with scissors and shades, I can only imagine what the neighbours made of me. But when I’m stretched out on my sun lounger with iced cooled elderflower in hand, I know who’ll be the smug one.
If you have easy access to an elderflower tree in your own garden, well, you can do this in your Deia and with effortless style from beginning to end. Sunday was definitely a Deia day. Turquoise water, tropical heat and not a cloud in the sky. Boris surely planned that.
15-20 sprigs elderflower
450g caster sugar
4 tablespoons of runny honey
2 unwaxed lemons
A shot of Gin (optional for some, essential for others)
Chilled water, still or sparkling or prosecco (to truly right off the afternoon)
Handful of fresh mint (probably growing next to the Elder tree!)
Take your freshly cut Elder flowers and carefully remove any little insects from the flowers and you can give them a quick rinse if you like (Some say to keep them unwashed to keep the pollen and flavour as they are very delicate but if you picked them from the side of a road then a wash is probably advantageous)
Fill a large pan with 1L of water, add the sugar and honey and gently bring to boil. Usually a sugar syrup is 2:1 quantities of water to sugar but I think it works to cut back a little
Take off the heat once the sugar is dissolved and add the zest of the two lemons and the elderflowers, flowers facing down and submerged in syrup.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon and slice the other, adding to the pan.
Cover and set aside for 24 hours
Strain your cordial through a sieve lined with muslin cloth or strong kitchen towel over a large bowl and then transfer to a sterilised bottle.
Make up your glass and ice, throw over your cordial (25ml, gin) if using and then top with prosecco, sparkling water. Muddle with mint and there you have it. Jam’s Summer Spritz.
On that note, I'm off to the garden!