Fragrant elderflowers are blooming presently. We are lucky that this tree overhangs the bridleway at the rear of our house. They are often used to make cordials or elderflower champagne, and I have to admit to dabbling in making an elderflower gin a couple of years back.
It's very simple to make; buy a decent gin (Lidl and Aldi both have good dry London gins), shake the elderflowers to get rid of any bugs, then infuse the gin with lemon peel, the elderflowers and a little sugar. Shake well and leave for 48 hours. You can add sugar syrup afterwards if you want a sweeter drink.
I filtered it twice, firstly through a muslin and then through a coffee filter. It was rather lovely when topped up with champagne!
This year, I thought that I'd try cooking with the elderflowers, using a light tempura style batter. This turned out beautifully, and we enjoyed the elderflower fritters with a spoonful of crème fraiche in the spring sunshine.
Make the batter for the fritters just before you cook them, and eat the fritters hot. You will need 2 elderflower heads per person. As with the gin, shake the elderflower heads well to remove any insects and leave about 1cm to stalk to hold the flowers as you dip them into the batter.
Sift 120g of self-raising flour into a bowl, add cold carbonated water until the batter is the texture of single cream. Heat about 1cm of sunflower oil/rapeseed oil in a pan. Working quickly, hold the stem of the elderflower and dip it in and out of the batter. Lower into the hot oil and fry until lightly golden. Drain onto kitchen paper. Dust with icing sugar. Eat immediately!
It was a taste of spring on a plate, why not give it a go yourself?