I like drinking. I like elderflower. And I absolutely love Elderflower liqueur. Unfortunately this drink can be a bit of a hit or miss, however if you follow these recipe tips you should avoid the major pitfalls and end up with bottles of gold Ambrosia.
On the way back from Glastonbury I managed to spy a fair few bushes in the campsite and by the train station. Fortunately I managed to fill up a carrier bag and two clean burgers boxes with the stuff. I got a few odd looks off passers by but at least the train carriage had some nice fragrance for once!
The single most important factor is good elderflower heads. Look for big, full, open heads. They should be a brilliant white and have no brown parts on them at all. Pick heads that are in direct sunlight and pick them before lunch. It sounds mad but trust me, it makes all the difference.
After you pick the flowers you need to start moving quickly, they start to lose their perfume incredibly fast. Fill up a bottle/jar just past 3/4 with the flowers, removing as much stalk as possible. If you compress the flowers they should take up about half the jar.
Once the jar is filled up to half way you need to add some sugar. The sugar not only sweetens it but brings out much of the flavor. You need an 80:20 ratio of elderflower to sugar. So if your elderflower is 4 inches high (when slightly compressed) add about an inch of sugar.
Fill almost to the brim with vodka. Now add thin slices of lemon to the top. You should try and cover the entire top layer with these thin slices as it will stop the flowers from rising to the top. If you can’t do this use a saucer and a weight to stop the elderflower from reaching the surface, as they will turn brown and taint the whole drink.
Leave a month before straining into a bottle and then another two weeks before drinking.
And remember the two most important things are: good clean, bright elderflower heads (without stalks) and not letting the flowers reach the surface. Enjoy!
P.S. Alex (the wonderful chap that took the foraging pic) has written a review of his time at Glastonbury which can be seen over at http://www.theboatshed.org/glastonbury-2013-a-complete-overview/