There’s no doubt that making your own elderflower cordial is a lovely way to use the elderflowers that can be so plentiful in June, but for those who want to try something a little bit different, elderflower gin is a wonderful – and unusual - alternative.
Elderflowers are best collected on a sunny day; just pick the elderflower heads, shake them to get rid of any insects and pop them in a large bucket or trug. It’s important to use them as quickly as possible as the smell and taste drops off sharply after they’ve been picked.
- 20 elderflower heads
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 70cl bottle of gin
1. Remove any leaves from the elderflower heads.
2. Pop all 20 heads in a large Kilner jar or similar container. You can use a bottle with a smaller neck but removing the elderflower heads at the end is a lot harder. Trust me on this…
3. Add four tablespoons of sugar to the jar and then pour in the whole bottle of gin.
4. Close the lid and shake well. Leave it in a cool, dark place to steep.
5. Continue to shake every day to help dissolve the sugar.
6. You can leave it for up to a week, but we find that three days is long enough to give a lovely elderflower flavour that isn’t overpowering. As ever, taste is the best way to determine whether it’s ready!
7. When it is to your taste, line a sieve with a clean tea towel or piece of muslin and place over a large bowl or jug. Tip the elderflowers and liquid in and strain. Don’t squeeze the pulp but do leave it to drip for an hour or so. The elderflower heads can be composted.
8. The resulting liquid will be cloudy. If you bottle it and leave for twenty-four hours, most of the solids will collect at the bottom and the clear elderflower gin can be poured off. For a more polished spirit, you can strain through a coffee filter paper or even use a professional filter kit. I’ve used a Vinbrite with great success but others are available.
9. Pour into a sterilized bottle and cork firmly. It will keep for ages and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
To serve, just pour over ice and dilute to taste with tonic or soda water. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try an Elderflower Tom Collins? Just add a splash of lemon juice to 50ml of elderflower gin (a double measure) and mix before pouring into a long glass filled with ice. Top up with soda water and enjoy.
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