Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Edible Flowers and Elderberry Flower Cordial

I'm missing Junior Landcare tomorrow, we're getting ready for a camping music festival adventure. Camping is great but the getting ready bit is not my favourite part, I'm procrastinating.  Junior Landcare this term has been all about edible flowers. These are some of the flowers I put together to display and taste. Every time I research a new topic I learn something. This time I discovered my favourite tea (Lady Grey) contains cornflowers, and I just happen to be growing them at the moment, it's the blue one on the right, but they come in many beautiful colours.
There's a beautiful poster in this magazine for anyone interested in edible flowers, it is a really fascinating topic, you would be surprised how many flowers are edible.  The pineapple sage flowers were hugely popular with the school children.  My favourite is the cucumber zing of borage. It was hilarious to watch the children sample nasturtium flowers and screw up their noses at the peppery taste.  They also had a great time making magical beads of water roll around on nasturtium leaves, the drops glimmering and pooling like mercury. Children were sipping water from cupped leaves like little fairy folk. A perfect hot afternoon activity. The flower theme really struck a chord with the kids, they were madly exploring the garden for edible flowers, and took a little reminding that some flowers are poisonous. Most edible plants have edible flowers and it was interesting to try the flowers of radish, broccoli, sage, chives and rosemary, whose flowers all taste a little like the leaves, bulbs and florets.  My youngest daughter is currently very taken with the small juicy seed pods on broccoli.
nasturtium leaf with a drop of water
photo source

 I have made two batches of elder flower cordial this fortnight, from my own elderberry bushes.  I really love the flavour, it is unlike anything else, summery, and somewhat reminiscent of an alcoholic drink. The idea to make it came as a great suggestion from an English friend, it's good for you, and so simple to make. Gather around 20 umbels of elderberry flowers (we have two varieties), shake off any bugs, peel 3 lemons and one orange then cut the peeled fruit into quarters, throw all of it  in bowl. I added a couple of tablespoons of citric acid to the second batch but the flavour difference wasn't really discernible from the first batch, perhaps it helps it last longer.

Make a syrup using 1kg sugar and 1.5 litres of water - heat them together in a saucepan until simmering and all sugar is dissolved.

  Pour syrup over flowers and fruit.

 Cover with muslin and leave to steep overnight or for 24 hours. 
Strain through a muslin lined colander (you can buy muslin baby wraps from the op-shop very cheaply).

Ahem, not the prettiest of jars (a touch reminiscent of something you might take to the doctors) but the contents are heady floral deliciousness. I'm storing mine in the fridge and it is being consumed at a vast rate, but I imagine if you wanted to keep it in the cupboard you would need to reheat it then place it in sterile bottles. I don't think going off will be a problem for us.

 It was the perfect drink to serve to my vegie gardening friends after they had helped complete this list.

 They certainly earned it.
They didn't receive any of this banana cake, or "cake disaster" as my kids dubbed it, they even made up a rap song about it. I went to turn it out from the pan and it started oozing mixture, I then shoved it all back in the tin and put it back in the oven, it came out with the texture of cauliflower and was actually the cause of much laughter in the house. Fortunately I had made plenty of other cakes so this one was saved for private family eating. I hope you get a chuckle too.
Over summer think about putting out a drink for your feathered friends, this old fry pan (bottom right) is frequented by Eastern Spinebills, Grey Fantails (pictured), Blackbirds, Blue Wrens, Ravens and Magpies.  I just unscrewed the handle and gave it a quick coat of spray paint. It's under a tap where it catches any drips and is easily refilled. I do love to watch a bird frolic and bathe.


  1. The elderflower cordial you made also tasted lovely with soda water. I love watching the birds dive bomb the water in our bird bath, they love it! There is someone procrastinating about packing for the weekend in this household too :-)

    1. Pleased you liked it, even in the unattractive packaging. Camping packing is the pits. The birds would love all the water at your house. Hope everything is surviving the heat.

  2. Wow they did work hard. I love hearing about other peoples cake disasters it make me feel like it does not just happen to me. The cordial sound great. I am working on one that uses Lemon Myrtle and will post when am happy with it.

    1. Yes I think we all have a few cake disaster stories, ooh lemon myrtle cordial would be divine, please post.

  3. I presume those aren't carrots poking out from that huge pile of weeds! They really did a lot of work and deserved their elderberry cordial..fantastic to have friends like that. Cake disasters are best served up warm with custard or's amazing how wonderful they taste!

    1. They are carrots, they had bolted and whilst I was enjoying the flowers I could make better use of the space. We had soooooo many carrots this year I didn't manage to use them all. I need to make a new bed for some fresh ones now. Awesome friends, we share the love and garden at each others houses every Friday. Ah custard does help things taste better.

  4. I love elderberry cordial. It reminds my of when I lived in Britain. Thanks for the reminder and recipe.

    1. I wonder what other old world treats I could rustle up from our garden. I am amazed at how easy cordial is to make.

  5. Great pictures Kylie. I am new to eating flowers but I do try to include them as more than just a pretty garnish from time to time. I haven't been able to get my head around eating fuschia flowers though. They are too pretty.


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young