Future Orchard Cork

In my last post I told you I’d been to Cork to sing and meet up with old friends and bumped into a ceramicist called Martha Cashman.

Martha in turn took me to see Elaine Garde who has set up a community orchard.

She lives on the other side of the valley from where I was staying with my friend Pauline.



And it was Elaine who supplied us with a lovely veg box that included apple juice, homemade wild garlic pesto, pickled beetroot and rhubarb compote

When we rolled up Elaine had been picking blackberries with her gorgeous hound, Finnegan.

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Elaine, Martha and Finnegan with a great haul of blackberries

Fragrant delight – elderflower cordial

Last year on my cycle commute to work I vowed I would pick some of the elderflowers that I saw in bloom in Whitlingham country park to make cordial.

But I never got round to it.

Fast forward to this week – I realised we had elderflowers in our garden only they were pink!

Somehow I hadn’t registered that I could use them as well.

Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ or black elderberry

The next thing was getting my hands on some citric acid.

The local chemist took great relish in telling me they would only be able to sell it 50g at a time.

Apparently this is to stop heroin abuse as it is used to dissolve the drug!

I did point out it’s easily accessible in large quantities via the internet.

Anyway I finally found some at the local pharmacy in a nearby large supermarket – with no limits on how much I could buy!

The elderflowers are macerated in a sugar syrup with lemons, oranges and citric acid for 24 hours

From the various books and web pages I read it seems you should only pick newly opened elderflowers from an unpolluted sourceĀ  – not from a busy roadside for example.

You should shake the flowers to rid them of any insects that may be lingering.

But if there are any you’ve missed – the muslin that you pass it through before bottling will catch them and sieve them out.

The colour of the cordial made with pink elderflowers is extraordinary

I followed this recipe fromĀ the BBC food website as it seemed as good as any other.

Even though I’ve sterilised the bottles – I’m still going to keep them in the fridge.

The cordial has got the thumbs up from others – my Mum, Jan, says it’s a very pleasant, unusual and refreshing.

Many people say it has a muscat flavour.

We used the last of the gooseberries stored in the freezer to make room for this year’s crop which is almost ready to be picked – just a couple more weeks I think

After passing the cordial through a muslin lined sieve we tied up the material and used the remnant fruit and flower heads to make Gooseberry and Elderflower jam with the last 2kgs of frozen fruit from last summer.

You can make elderflower wine or champagne – I might try that next year.