Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Meadowsweet cordial

  Making Elderflower cordial is a right of passage for any self-respecting forager or wild food enthusiast.  The intoxicating scent of the creamy-white umbels in the wind is a sign that summer, along with the bounty it brings, is nigh.  After busily making cordials, champagnes, teas and tinctures galore, it is easy to be saddened when the last Elder blooms disappear, but you need not be, as Mother Nature has a rather delicious trick up her sleeve.

The little-known Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) can be made in to cordial in exactly the same way that the flower heads of elder would be, but, handily, starts to flower just as the Elderflowers are disappearing, prolonging the season of homemade refreshment.  The Meadowsweet is an easy plant to identify; it has candyfloss-like pom pom flowers of a similar colour to that of the Elder, and a red stalk with a three-pronged leaf (think Canadian maple) at the end and three sets of opposing leaves on the stalk itself.

Hedgerows are a good place to look for meadowsweet...

...as are roadsides

Recipe adapted from Wilde in the Woods blog;

Check your flower heads for bugs – they seem to be a favourite hideout for creepy crawlies. After doing this, strip the flower heads from the stems, as the stems and leaves contain salicylates, which gives them a medicinal ‘Savlon’ taste - not preferable.

Take a large saucepan and bring two litres of water to the boil. Dissolve about 250 grams of sugar in it and the juice of two lemons (optional, but recommended). Then add four large handfuls of Meadowsweet flowers (the more the merrier, though around 40 will suffice) to the pan, submerge in the boiling water for as long as you can afford, overnight will yield the best results, but a few hours will do just fine.

After infusing, filter off the flowers and return to the boil with a further 250 grams of sugar. Boil for five minutes and then pour into sterilised bottles and seal while hot. To sterilise glass bottles, simply put in the oven at about 100oC for 10/15 minutes or so.

This cordial should last 4-6 weeks in the fridge, if you want to keep it for longer, simply add some citric acid when boiling for the second time.

Meadowsweet flowers infusing

For those that like Elderflower, making some of this is a no-brainer; it has a wonderfully sweet taste, more subtle than that of Elderflower, but equally as refreshing.

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