(Many thanks to my fabulous photographer, Calvin, for all these shots!)
This cordial has been years in the making. Isn't that wild? Sometimes when we're planting things, the kids will ask when it will be that we get to actually eat the things we're putting into the ground. Often the answer is "just a few months from now!" but just as often, the answer is "in a few years!" Their heads spin at the thought, and inevitably we do the math as to how old they'll be, and how old their sisters and brothers will be, and how old their parents will be (must we really?). It's hard to comprehend at such an age exactly why one would do something that won't be enjoyed for years and years to come. But we do it, and they talk about it. And eventually, as we assure them, the years pass.
And here we are. Making Elderflower Cordial. Though this is the thing I've been waiting for and thinking about for a while, and I'm the one who has had to be patient. Patient in the first year when I planted a whole row of them, hoping to make an eventual hedge there. Patient in the second year when I didn't want to cut anything, to really let it really grow. And now here we are in year three - with a great big row of elderberry bushes, ready for harvesting. Ah...it makes me so very happy.
A sort of funny little side note. I didn't notice any elderberry bushes upon first coming to this land. And so I started purchasing them (from FEDCO) and planting - eight the first year and four more the year following. Just this year, I've been finding myself walking around the edges of some of our pasture and thinking..."I swear that's an elderflower!". Of course they were. Many of them. And here I've been buying them new, while the easy-to-propagate bush grows right in my own backyard. Oh, foolishness! I'll just have to chalk that up to learning. It's humbling, this gardening gig. And funny sometimes too.
For the cordial, I followed the recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, though the recipe is also available online. It went well - I've made three batches of it now and have plenty of flowers left for harvesting more (even while leaving plenty to use some of the berries later in the season and plenty for the plants to keep growing). I like this recipe because it includes some citric acid which will give it a longer shelf life. I'm quite hopeful that I'll have enough for well into the winter and maybe even for some gift-giving too.
And what will we make with all that cordial? So far we've all been enjoying a bit of it with sparkling water. And the adults have been enjoying a splash of it with gin and club soda. I'm pretty excited about trying it as a fizz, in an ice cream, and cakes, and oh my the possibilities are endless, aren't they? Just from one little bunch of flowers.