It’s a bright morning in June, and Raffi and I are searching the hedgerows for one of my favourite summer treats: elderflowers for sparkling elderflower wine.
These wonderfully fragrant flowers are best picked on a warm morning, before the bees have had their fill.
Foraging needs to be done responsibly. Take care not to damage surrounding plants, only take what you plan to eat and leave plenty behind for the wildlife. Elderflower is pretty good at taking care of itself though. It tends to grow behind tall clumps of nettles and keeps its best flowers at the top of the tree, way out of my reach. Even so I only take about 8 flowers per tree. The bees need them more than I do.
My favourite recipe is from River Cottage: https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/sparkling-elderflower-wine. They call it their quick and reckless recipe, which appeals to my lazy side. I spent last summer laid up with a broken ankle, sipping it in my garden hammock, and I can attest to its utter deliciousness.
After much boiling of sugar and zesting of lemons, I have four buckets of quietly fizzing liquid that smells of heaven. This year (with a healed ankle!) I plan to take the dogs to a remote waterfall somewhere in the South Wales valleys, and drink it in the sun. I can’t wait.