Sunday, June 09, 2013

You should respect your Elders. I do.

It is elderflower season here in Warsaw, and they are everywhere! They are only out and in the best state for about 2 weeks so, I encourage people to get out pick some and use them (don't pick them all from one tree though as the bees need something and there will be berries later on). Pick the ones that look consistent in colour and "creamy". Your hands should get a good covering of the pollen, and if you are like me, it will bring on a wave of sneezing, running eyes and boogers to the extreme, but it is worth it in the end. You can add the flowers to drinks, pancakes or jellies. Or even make a syrup, or champagne. You might remember two years ago I made the champagne in glass bottles....(here), I am not making that mistake again! This year it will be plastic bottles so there are no explosions in the middle of the night.

So what is this?

Well it is part of a gummi making session. I really enjoy eating gelatinous masses and so have always wanted to make good elderflower flavoured ones.

These were pleasant, but my wife wanted me to make them without pig trotters. So, we had a think about it and came up with alternative.
In the mean time I needed to bottle my syrup. I have made 4.5L so far this year as last year it was used up by about the end of August!

As I could convince my wife to allow me to make champagne again, I thought I would try a different method from last time.
flower plucker

A long day of flower plucking a head

With the champagne I am not as fussed about a few stems getting in there as they don't soak for very long.

But for the jellies they need to be more delicately worked. Some people use a for to take them off, but I find fingers are more effective and more fun.

Sometimes you need some respite, so some gin, lime, and tonic are good friends. Even without the lime you get a really lovely floral hint in the glass.

The delicately plucked for the next syrup which will use lime instead of lemons.

The second bath of lemon based elderflower syrup.

Some flowers that will dry to make elderflower tea.
Drying in the winter balcony

The lime based syrup will steep for 3 days.
The new jellies are based on Agar Agar a seaweed based gelling agent.

they actually set more firmly than the standard gelatin agent

And they are pretty tasty too.
So the recipes:

a full cup of flowers only (no stems)
5-10g of citric acid (it is up to you how tart you like it)
130g sugar
250ml water (post boil)
45g powdered gelatin or a tablespoon (14ml) of agar-agar.

It is really simple. Boil your kettle. While that is boiling away, mix together the dry ingredients, including the flowers. Let the kettle boil and sit for say 5-10 minutes, in this time use a light vegetable oil to very lightly grease your molds (you can just use a baking tin if you want and cut into squares once it is cooled). Then simply mix together the hot (not boiling) water until there is no graininess in the mixture and the spoon moves easily though it. I use a bowl that has a spout in it to make the pouring into the molds easier. You can either let these sit to cool, or if you want them quickly put them in the fridge. This makes enough to last me about a week.

Syrup 2.5L
2 Lemons washed, rind removed and then juiced.
as many heads as you want, I use around 20-30 depending on size.
25g Citric acid
950g sugar
2.5L water

Combine the sugar, acid lemon rind, juice and add to a pan along with the water. Bring this to the boil. Let it boil away for about a minute then add the flowers and continue to boil for a minute or 2. Then put into a large sterile preserving jar (it is best to pre-heat this with warm water so that the jar doesn't break when the boiling liquid is added). Seal this quickly so as to prevent contamination. Let it sit to cool, I normally put mine on the window sill on a towel. Once cool, put in a dark environment for 2-5 days (the longer the stronger the flavour of the flowers and lemons) shake it every time you walk past where it is kept just to get the steeping to be most effective. Then when you are ready to bottle, sterilise all your equipment, funnel, bowl, bottles and lids of course. I normally just wash all my bottles in the dishwasher, when I am finished and then when I want to use them again just sterilise with boiling water quickly. When bottled they will last about a year (but you WILL drink them before then.)

With pancakes, we normally make spelt pancakes and just make a slightly wetter batch to add 2 or 3 large heads of elderflower to them. Easy peasy Japanesey.


Tom Otomcio said...

That's great, really great. Excellent photos, too.

We've decided to make some cordial that way we can add it to Sekt.

Just got to find a place with some elderflower now. We're heading out in a few mins in the rain to look.


Gee Em said...

Great Tom! It is always best to pick them in the dry and sunny times as they are most open and ready to use, you will have to work quickly when you get home if they are wet as they might not be easy to work with.

Look in empty spaces along creeks, rivers etc. try and stay away from the real roadside ones as they may have some sort of pollution from cars etc. But after rain it may not be too bad! Good luck! :D

Joy said...

Great looking elderflower - everything! I assume I should stay away from the random elderflowers I see here in the Warsaw parks and along random sidewalks, correct? Too much pollution?

Gee Em said...

Hi Joy, I think if they are near a main road I probably would, but there are lots of trees that pop up on parks or in between the apartment blocks that should be fine. I find lots of mine on the edge of the forest and also alongside open land. There are hundreds about. :D I think also after the rain there won't be too much pollution on anything, fingers crossed. :D

Tom Otomcio said...

Garth! We've just finished the second batch!

My wife altered your recipe a bit with more elderflower and a lime.

In the second batch we added masses of ginger, too.

Just busy drinking it with German Sekt. Very nice. Indeed.

Cheers for the inspiration!!!


Gee Em said...

Tom fantastic! Great stuff. We did a last and final batch this year with lime instead of lemon and it is really sublime... yes a bad play on words ;) I will have to try the ginger next year! :D Can you recommend a good sekt? :D

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