With the smell of Elderflower in the air and summer on the horizon we ran a workshop teaching people how to identify this abundant resource and to make a cordial from the flowers.
First off we looked at the Elder tree we have in the Caravanserai garden and participants were taught 3 key things to look for when foraging: 1. The umbrella shaped flowers which are flat at the top (not to be confused with the umbellifer family which i thought described the shape of the flower but is in fact a family name) known as a cyma. 2. The serated leaves with a point at the end. 3. The unmistakeable smell of Elderflowers, so get you nose in there.
Once that was taught we spoke about the range of time that Elderflower can be foraged which is dependent on the weather but broadly is late May and through June. Trees will differ but it is important to look for the flower heads which have some flowers unopened and which smell good.
With foraging it is important to leave enough for fauna and others who wish to forage as well as for the aesthetics of plants. Therefore we picked every 3rd flower that was good for cordial
The flowers are then steeped in boiling water along with the zest of lemons (I’ve also added lemon verbena before which was very tasty) and left overnight. To show the whole process a batch from the day before was then heated and sugar and citric acid added. Once the sugar has dissolved the cordial was good to go and everyone left with a sample to take home.