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18 May 2015

Spotted in Ravenscourt Park yesterday - the first elderflower of the season. Usually these beautiful little blooms don't put in an appearance until June but, then again, the unpredictability of British seasonality is part of what makes it so special.

The abundance of fresh wild produce that grows in this city never ceases to amaze me. You'd be wrong to think that foraging is purely a country-dweller's pursuit - a quick google has revealed that figs, mushrooms and blackcurrants are all, if you'll forgive me, ripe for the picking across the city. London, how you continue to surprise and delight me. 

As I'm still a little unsure of the legalities of harvesting elderflower in the Big Smoke, I'm reverting to some shots I took when making elderflower cordial last year. This rather resplendent crop of elderflower hails from the hedgerows of Rutland, my home county which - for the non-geographers among you - sits snugs between Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. It's often likened to the Archers which, if nothing else, says a lot about the listening preferences of a lot of it's residents.

Back to the elderflower, and to the cordial which I implore you to whip up if you manage to forage any for yourself. This is delicious straight up with soda water and ice, but you can also bake with it, drizzle it, and it makes a great addition to fizz if you're feeling fancy. These quantities make 1 litre of cordial, but can easily be multiplied, dependant on your haul. 

P.S - if you're interested in foraging, then may I suggest you give Going Wild Foraging a follow over on Instagram. It's run by the extremely knowledgeable Elliot, who's currently foraging his way round Australia. 

1.25kg granulated sugar
750ml water
2 lemons
15-20 elderflower heads 
40g citric acid (available from chemists)

Place the sugar and water in a large pan over a low heat. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has entirely dissolved. Bring it to the boil for a few minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside. 

Remove the zest from the lemons, then slice up and add to the sugar syrup. Separately, fill a bowl with cold water, and gently swirl each elderflower head in it, to remove any bugs or dead flowers. Add the clean elderflower and citric acid to the syrup, stir, then cover with a tea towel and leave to infuse for 24 hours. 

Strain the syrup through a fine sieve or muslin, and decant into sterilized bottles.

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