Every London park is bursting with elder right now, and because the plant is a weed and an abundant one at that, it’s fine to help yourself. It’s the white frothy flower you see growing on a tree rather than a bush. If you are in any doubt, smell it and you’ll recognise its distinctive scent.
Here is 80-something cook and forager Pamela Michael’s wonderful recipe for this delicious, grapey, flowery drink. It is quick to make but will need three weeks to brew up its fizz before it’s ready to drink.
- 1 litre/ 1 quart measure elderflowers, picked from their stems – about 16 heads
- 1 1/2 unwaxed lemons
- 500g sugar
- 5 litres of water
Shake off any insects from the elderflowers and snip away the stalks.
Slice the lemons and put them with the flowers and sugar in a clean plastic bucket or very large bowl.
Pour over the cold water and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar.
Cover the bucket or bowl with a lid or clingfilm to exclude the air. Leave for 24 hours.
After the 24 hours is up, strain into jugs and pour the liquid into clean dry bottles with good lids. Fill to within 5cm of the top and screw the caps on tightly.
Drink within six weeks or so. It doesn’t keep indefinitely.