Summer Drinks – Limoncello and Elderflower
Summer is here, temperatures are soaring and plans for eating outdoors and summer cocktails are all being made. 2 weeks ago I collected a bag full of elderflower (when there was still plenty of rain about) and now I am delighted to have this in the fridge ready for any callers. Those wanting something stronger can try the other bottle, also equally good on a summer evening. Limoncello brings memories of a lunatic driver from Naples to Amalfi careering round hair pin bends and stopping at the side of the road in blistering heat to offer us granita to cool down.
There is still elderflower about if you fancy getting up in the morning to collect it otherwise try recipe #2.
1l bottle vodka
5 lemons (unwaxed and washed)
700gr sugar dissolved in 700ml water
Make sure you have big enough bottles to hold nearly 2 ltrs of liquid. I used old lemonade bottles which I sterilised.
Take the zest from all the lemons making sure not to include any white as it will add bitterness.
Put the zest in a large clean jar and pour over the vodka. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and leave for a week, shaking the jar each day.
When the vodka is ready add the syrup to it, leave for a further week shaking the jar regularly.
Elderflower Syrup – Delicious with sparkling water and loads of ice.
2kg white sugar, either granulated or caster
1.5 litres water
2 unwaxed lemons
About 20 fresh elderflower heads (stalks trimmed)
85g citric acid (from chemists – used for flavouring)
Put the sugar and water into a pot and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons then slice the lemons into rounds. Add to the sugar and water.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup. Add the citric acid, then stir well.
Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel.
Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run them through the dishwasher).
This ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.