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Archive for June, 2017


I’m still here…

For various reasons the garden just isn’t happening this year, as in “I mow the lawn but that’s about it”. It’s fine; gardens are forgiving places, and while there might be a lot of weeds all over the place it’s nothing irreparable.

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But summer is truly here. There are days when I retreat to the shade because it gets too hot outside – I’ve clearly lost the heat-resistance I built up in Texas if a Danish June can make me feel like I’m melting.

The sun is making the smell of the elderflowers drift through the garden, and last week I went out and collected a small basket of flowers.

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I have never made elderflower cordial before, but the internet told me it was quite simple, so I got rid of as much of the stems as I could be bothered to, boiled up a thin syrup of sugar and water and poured it over the flowers – and then you just leave it in a covered container somewhere cool for 3-4 days.

The smell is amazing when you’re handling 50-something umbels of elderflowers – and when you pour hot liquid over them the smell just explodes! That alone would be a good enough reason to do it.

Last night I filtered the liquid through a cloth in a sieve, leaving the wet flowers to drain for a few hours, and then I poured it into small bottles and capped them. But I’d like to store it until winter, so just to make sure it has a “shelf-life” of up to a year I pasteurised the bottles before putting them away.

It’s the same process as when my family makes apple juice, only on a tiny scale – my pasteurising tub is not an old copper with a live fire underneath but a large builder’s bucket where I can use my sous-vide apparatus to give the bottles 20 minutes at 80C / 175F. That kills everything inside so the contents won’t spoil.

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There is something very satisfying about bottling up the smell and taste of summer, storing it up for a cold, dark winter when you need a bit of liquid sunshine. And it really does taste of summer mornings in the garden… The first batch was only a couple of litres, but I’ll definitely make a second, larger batch, and maybe reduce some of it to a thick syrup to use on ice cream, pancakes and whatever else needs a little boost!

I need to get some labels, though, so I can write what’s in each bottle – otherwise it could probably get quite confusing!

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