Our hedgerows are a treasure trove as flowers enjoy a bumper year
In the words of Elvis Costello “It’s been a good year for the roses”.
The limited number in my garden are doing especially well. Wild roses are rampant this year and my favourite, the beach rose, with its delicate pink leaves, is thriving. When the flowers turn to rosehips you can use them to make a syrup or jam. The flowers themselves can be preserved too. Always use roses you know haven’t been sprayed with pesticide when using them in recipes. Rose jam is the perfect way to capture their essence and fragrance. The process is the same for making a fruit jam but the end result isn’t as thick. Use it to drizzle over yoghurt for breakfast or even on toast. The jam can be folded into cream to add to a cake or meringue. Or add a couple of teaspoons to sparkling wine for a fragrantly refreshing drink.
Honeysuckle is having a bumper year too. Like elderflowers the heads can be made into a cordial. You’ll need to remove the flowers from their green stems before adding to a sugar syrup. It can be used in sweet dishes and is particularly lovely with perfumed fruits like peaches and apricots but you could add to vinaigrette to give your salad a balmy edge. Add a splash to the pan after cooking fish or even lamb to enrich the juices. Making your own honeysuckle cordial will give you a taste that you could never buy and a memory of a time and place when it was picked.
Elderflowers are coming to an end now and if you want to use them in a recipe do it now when you can. Nothing says summer like the arrival of their pale, lace like fronds lining the sides of the road. Their bouquet is very alluring - like lemons and vanilla. To make a cordial, substitute elderflowers for the honeysuckles in the recipe. You can buy elderflower liqueurs but it’s quick and easy to make your own and the recipe included here will be ready in a couple of days.
Elderflowers and gooseberries go together like Fred and Ginger and they’re serendipitously in season simultaneously. Gooseberries are quite hard to source but ask your local greengrocer or farm shop to help you. It’s ironic there’s no bother in finding blueberries flown half way round the world but you have to go out of your way to find a locally grown treasure. They can be stewed in sugar with a little elderflower cordial for a simple dessert. If you want to up your game I’ve added a recipe for homemade gooseberry ice-cream. Serve on its own or with some shortbread and an added toot of the elderflower liqueur. Gooseberries are also great in savoury dishes. They make the perfect tart foil for oily fish like mackerel and herring. Slice them in half, toss in some vinaigrette sweetened with elderflower cordial and serve on the side of your grilled fish.