I'm incredibly sad to say that we're not going to be able to make any of our Elderflower Soda this year 😭. The current crisis has meant that our seasonal calendar has gone a bit topsy-turvy this year with flavours like Apple, Bergamot and Pear & Aronia staying with us for a lot longer than we would normally see.
Running our own production site gives us the power to make what we want when we need it. It's always a challenging job to predict which flavours will be the most popular and how much of each seasonal flavour of pop we're going to need. COVID19 obviously CHANGED EVERYTHING and so at the end of March, we were left with some flavours we weren't expecting and a fridge full of fresh fruit ready to make soda that we absolutely didn't want to waste. Cue a huge soda makeathon over the next couple of weeks and I'm now very proud to say that not a single piece of fruit went to waste!
However, we now have a warehouse full of flavours that taste absolutely amazing but aren't following our seasonal release calendar. PRO - you now get to enjoy some of our more citrusy and pomme flavours for longer. CON - we currently haven't got room to make some of our Spring/Summer releases.
Elderflower is a great example of a hyper-seasonal flavour with the flowers only in full bloom for around two weeks. And those two weeks are RIGHT NOW! What that means is, we're not in a position to make any Elderflower Soda this year.
BUT, we don't want you to miss out! So here's our guide to finding your elderflower, picking the best bunches and making your own elderflower cordial.
Step 1: Identifying elderflower
So, elderflower grows all over the UK. It's also pretty easy to identify, especially at this time of year when all the flowers out so yay for that! You're looking for an umbrella-shaped tree with corky bark and thin jagged-edged leaves that are most often seen in clusters of 5. Younger plants are quite bushy but will still be covered in sweet-smelling flowers.
The flowers range from white to a buttery yellow and smell super fragrant, especially on warm, sunny days. They also look like little umbrellas.
Step 2: Picking at the right time
Elderflower blooms from mid-May to early June. The best time to go picking is the last week of May because that's when the majority of the flowers will be in full bloom. I've already said that the flowers give off the most smell on warm sunny days and what that means is the flowers will give your cordial the best flavour when picked in full sun. That's because the flowers are releasing the most pollen when it's sunny (sorry all you hayfever sufferers 😅)
Step 3: Picking the best flowers
This is going to change how your cordial will taste for the better! The best tip I can give you is to pick bunches of Elderflower that are a deep buttery yellow colour. Again, this yellow colour is created by the pollen on the flowers and that = great flavour.
You should also make sure that the bunch your picking has fully opened flowers on it. Picking buds will result in your cordial having a "green flavour" which is not what we're looking for.
Remember to also avoid any blooms that are starting to turn brown - these aren't bringing anything to your cordial but they will turn into elderberries later on in the year which you can also make drinks from or leave on the tree to feed the birds!
Step 4: How to pick
This is so easy! You can bring some scissors if you want to but there's really no need - just snap the blossoms off at the stem. Make sure you bring a bag to your elderflower in and the sooner you get your picked blooms back home, the better for the flavour.
The final thing to avoid is picking buds with blackfly on them. Blackfly loves to feast on elderflower, especially when they're in flower so check all the stems for a black sticky gunk (a big giveaway of a blackfly infestation) before picking them - see it, don't pick it. Simple!
Please forage responsibly - never pick all the flowers off a tree, always leave some for someone else. You should also never pick something that you're not fully confident you've correctly identified.
Now you've picked some elderflower, it's time to get making your cordial.
To make this recipe you will need:
50g Elderflower picked fresh
100ml Lemon juice (around 4 lemons) from unwaxed lemons
1 Orange, also unwaxed
How to make:
- First, you need to juice your lemons. For this recipe, it's best to halve them and then squeeze the juice out. Save the lemon "husks" - we're going to need them. Refrigerate the lemon juice once made.
- Next, you need to boil 400ml of water in a pan you can cover and, once boiled, stir in the sugar until completely dissolved to create your syrup.
- Slice up your orange and add the slices, along with your lemon husks, to your syrup.
- Now it's time to add the elderflower! Put your elderflower in the syrup flowers down and try to keep as much of the stalks out of the syrup as possible.
- Cover your syrup, set a timer for 2 hours and go watch ya Netflix while you wait.
- Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the stalks of elderflower from the syrup, giving them a little shake on the way out.
- Next, gently sieve the syrup into a jug/bowl/something you can easily pour from to remove any loose flowers and the orange and lemon. Add the lemon juice.
- Pour your syrup into a clean, sealable container like a glass bottle or even a jam jar, leave to reach room temp and then store in the fridge until your ready to drink it (which is obvs straight away, right?!) It should keep for up to two weeks (if you can make it last that long 🤣)
To serve, add 25ml of syrup to 225ml of water (fizzy is best ofc). Ice and a slice of orange wouldn't go amiss here!
Top tip: If you want your cordial to last longer, you can sterilise the container before adding your cordial. Once you open it, it will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
Good Luck Pop Pals and please do stay safe & share your pics of your Elderflower adventures!