Heralding the official arrival of the British summer

It's been a busy few weeks with elder blossom coming into it's full glory. Luminous in the dark corner of St Mary's Churchyard, along Vinegar Alley and in all the forgotten corners the urban forager finds scented treasure.

A dry early morning is the best time to gather it, when the scent is strongest. These flowers are destined for the gooseberry and elderflower vodka which I will make in the next few weeks when the gooseberries ripen.

Meanwhile they are filling the house with their fragrance, a bright heap awaiting being steeped in vodka.

A recipe for making elderflower cordial. Best consumed within two weeks, although it'll keep for a month if bottled and can be frozen in plastic bottles (leave some space, as the liquid expands).


Elderflower Cordial

20 elderflower heads
2½ pints boiling water
3½lbs sugar
1 sliced lemon
2tsp citric acid (available from the chemist)

Put all the dry ingredients into a clean pan and pour boiling water over them. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Skim off the surface scum. Cover with a cloth or lid. Stir twice daily for five days. Strain through a muslin and bottle.

A little cordial in some prosecco makes a gorgeous summery cocktail.

Meanwhile frantic bottling and labeling is going on each evening in preparation for the divine Auntie Maureen's gourmet food fare at The Bell on Sat 29th. A wondrous cornucopia of local edible delights, featuring cake makers, chutney and jam producers as part of the Appetite E17 festival.