Summer in a bottle

It would seem that summer has finally found it's way to Orkney today with Beautiful, huge cloudless blue skies and some actual heat. Of course a once around the garden this morning means being able to see just how much the weeds are taking over.

One good thing has come form the odd weather this year, and that is our Elder trees are absolutely covered in blossom, much later than the rest of the UK but certainly welcome. It has been cordial and wine making the past couple of weeks, with two batches of cordial bottled and frozen, and another being used as we speak.

This is our go to recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Book

  • About 25 elderflower heads
  • Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
  • 1kg sugar

Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.
Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice.

Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.

Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.
 Also this is the first year there has been enough to make Elderflower wine. I don't hold out much hope for berries, the early autumn winds usually trash any foliage on the trees, and certainly berries would be lost too, but you never know.

I have also been working on my contribution to the Mad tea party taking place this weekend, can't wait, its going to be fun :) If you need me then I will be hiding away somewhere with my laptop and a picnic enjoying visiting the other parties. But first, where is that list of 376 jobs I need to complete before I take a weekend off....?

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