Monday, 28 June 2010

Welcome Summer Rain, Elderflower Cordial

The summer view across the valley is vibrantly green and gorgeous. The neighbouring woods are lush and look just like something out of a Constable painting. With everyone's silage crop taken off , there are now a large number sheep grazing in the fields opposite.
As I write it has been raining  and though it is barely enough to damp the dust it will help prevent the grass shrivelling up completely. We have seen the fields across the valley go brown in previous hot summers and the farmers remove all their livestock because there is no grazing and no water. We are fortunate here that although water does get short we've never run absolutely dry though we have had to give the dairy access to the river in the past. When we do have a water shortage the needs of the milking cows have to take priority, they need 10 gallons each, every day. When the boys were very little we had a very dry summer and I had to take them and the laundry to be washed at kind neighbours houses who were on mains water, so that we had enough water for the cows. Whilst long hot summers are lovely they do bring similar anxieties to those we endured in the long cold winter.

The Farmer has been off today shearing a handful of pet sheep for some friends. He did some at the weekend was well and in payment we were taken out to dinner at a very good local excellent arrangement!

The elder trees around the farm are in full flower now and I fully intend to make some elderflower cordial again. I have not made it for a couple of years and really should try it again, it is so simple.
Here is the recipe I use;
Elderflower Cordial
1 litre/2 pints elderflowers,Water,Granulated sugar,Lemons

Gather enough elderflowers to fill a 2 pint measure when lightly packed.
Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. Top up pan if necessary to keep the flowers covered.
Strain the liquid through a muslin, gently squeezing it to extract all the juice and then measure the the amount of juice.
Add 12oz. sugar and the juice of 1/2 a lemon, then heat gently to dissolve the sugar.
Bring to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum that forms.
Let cool.
Pour the liquid into clean bottles to about 1" below the top and seal with screw tops or corks.
The cordial will keep for some weeks in the fridge but the bottles will need to be sterilised if you wish to keep it much longer.

We have a friend who makes elderflower champagne which is delicious but sneakily lethal. It should be served with a health warning!

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