Wimbledon is upon us at last – and it is also prime elderflower season – so what better way to cheer Andy Murray on with than your own homemade elderflower cocktail?!

Elder is a fairly common, low growing shrub that produces creamy-white flower heads from May through July. The advice is to pick them early on bright mornings before the bees have stolen their nectar and their heady sweet fragrance lends itself to lots of delicious drinks and desserts. The lovely people at Historic Sussex Hotels are very pro-foraging, with Executive Chef Martin Hadden holding masterclasses where he will share hints and tips – click here for list of courses.

They have provided this great recipe for a Strawberry and Elderflower Bellini, along with how to make your very own base of elderflower champagne – if you start quick it should be ready in time for finals weekend!

Ingredients

  • For 3.5 litres you will need:
  • Twenty large heads of elderflower
  • One lemon
  • 500g of sugar
  • One tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • Plastic fizzy drinks bottles

Method

Pick nice young flower heads. Use the flowers promptly or the aroma will change and become unpleasant.

Put 3.5 litres of water in a large lidded saucepan, warm to 60c.

Add the elderflower heads and the sliced lemon. Put the lid on, then leave it for 24 to 36 hours.

Strain the liquid through a clean cloth.

Add 500g of sugar and two tablespoons of cider vinegar, and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Pour into fizzy drinks bottles. Don’t screw them on tight – just stand the bottles in a corner and keep an eye on them. After a few days they will start to make tiny bubbles as the wild yeasts get to work on the sugar.

After one or two weeks the bubbles will gradually slow down. When they look like they have pretty much stopped, screw the lids down and put the bottles somewhere fairly cool. Give them another few days to generate enough gas to carbonate themselves, and you’re set – just refrigerate the bottle before you need it, and serve over ice with lemon.

The elderflower champagne is still ‘live’ and continuing to ferment, so the longer it is stored the more alcoholic (and drier) it will become.

Note: use only plastic bottles, not glass, as you can give them a good squeeze to see how much pressure has built up. There is no added yeast in this recipe. The flowers are not scalded or sterilised, which leaves the wild yeasts naturally present on the blooms to do the fermentation for you.

Strawberry and sparkling elderflower ‘bellini’

 

The Restaurants:

Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, Ockenden Lane, Cuckfield, West Sussex RH17 5LD | 01444 416111| www.hshotels.co.uk

Member Club Offer: Member dines complimentary – click here for full details

Tapestry Restaurant at Bailiffscourt Hotel, Climping, West Sussex, BN17 5RW | www.hshotels.co.uk | 01903 723511

Member Club Offer: Member dines complimentary – click here for full details

The Spread Eagle Restaurant, South Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9NH | www.hshotels.co.uk | 01730 816911

Member Club Offer: Member dines complimentary – click here for full details 

Not a member? Join now to take advantage of these and other fantastic club benefits. Click here to join club online

Posted by:Luxury Restaurant Guide

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