INGREDIENTS(Makes 1 500ml bottle)
- 10 heads of fresh elderflower
- 500ml apple cider vinegar (raw with the mother)
- Runny honey to taste (approx 4 tbsp)
- Bottle (for final bottling)
- Brown paper/baking parchment
- Rubber band
Anna Greenland is a vegetable gardener and cook who is at the heart of the organic growing movement. One of her favourite ways of using elderflower is in an oxymel, an ancient herbal tonic which combines honey, vinegar and herbs. Hippocrates references their use in 400 BC.
Anna says, “Oxymel recipes are flexible. I like to make my infused vinegar and add honey to taste. You can also judge your own quantities – it’s as easy as packing blooms into a jar, covering with vinegar, waiting a few weeks, straining and adding honey to taste. But do follow the steps below for some important tips.”
Sterilise any jars and bottles and always use glass when working with vinegar. I like to use a wide mouth jar rather than a bottle for the initial infusion in order to get the elderflowers in and out easily.
Once picked, spread the elderflowers out on a piece of parchment paper or a baking tray and allow any insects to escape.
Snip flowers off the stems – it is only the blooms you want as stems are mildly toxic – and pack the blooms into a jar. Cover with apple cider vinegar and fill the jar to about half an inch from the top.
Wipe the rim of the jar, and if your jar has a metal lid, secure a layer or parchment under the lid with a rubber band to prevent any rusting.
Label and date the jar and store in a dark place at room temperature. Gently turn the jar every few days.
After a week you have to option to strain of the existing elderflower and add in the same amount of fresh flowers to the vinegar again to really enhance the flavour. Or simply leave to infuse for 2-3 weeks. If adding further fresh flowers allow 2 weeks following this. I advise tasting weekly and when you are happy with the flavour, tuck in.
When your infusion is ready, strain into a glass bowl or jug, through a fine mesh sieve lined with a muslin cloth. If you only want an infused vinegar then bottle, label, date and keep in the fridge.
To make the oxymel, add honey to the vinegar a tablespoon at a time and keep mixing until the honey dissolves. Taste until you have the right sweet/sour balance for you. Bottle, label and date. Keep in fridge and consume within 6 months.