Our favourite forager, Charlie Hooson-Sykes from cool blog, The Gin Fuelled Bluestocking, sheds some light on how easy it is to find local flowers and plants and turn them into wicked brews...
As I sit at my desk and look outside into the grey skies, it’s hard to believe that we’re in peak foraging season. Summer has seen a mishmash of weather, from cold grey skies and rain, to scorching sunshine, via thunderstorms and hail.
But as I’ve seen on my regular run down by the canal side, mother nature really doesn’t care. She’s still working hard producing flowers, fruits and berries for us to feed our senses with.
I’ve already been gifted with a batch of cherries that are currently steeping in alcohol, I’ve seen the first few blackberries emerge on the brambles, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll still be able to get your hands on some elderflower – perfect for adding to your Gin, making into a syrup to add to your cocktail cabinet, or perhaps like me, to make into a very delicious Elderflower Liqueur.
Makes 750ml (ish)
20-30 Elderflower heads
120g Caster sugar
A few tips when you're foraging for elderflowers...
- When picking elderflower heads pick the lightest and most fragrant. Disregard if they look a little brown around the edges. Also disregard any suffering from a bug invasion.
- Remove the flowers from the heads – elderflower stems are toxic and so it’s best to be cautious. The easiest method is to use your thumb to gently pull the flowers from the heads. It takes practice, but once you have the method down, it’ll get much easier!
Got the flowers; now what?
- Put the flowers into the jar and pour on the Vodka.
- If possible, use a spare jam jar lid balanced on top of the liquid to keep the flowers below the surface. Though this won’t affect the flavour too badly, they will brown if left to the outside air. Leave them for at least two weeks in a dark cupboard.
- When the two weeks are over, double strain the liquid – use a sieve, then an unbleached coffee paper to remove any remaining petals and pollen.
- Return the liquid to the jar, add the sugar, put the lid back on and shake until the sugar has dissolved.
Enjoy a drop or two in your Prosecco, in your Gin and Tonic, or perhaps stirred into a little whipped cream to have with your strawberries.