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We’re Going On An Elderflower Hunt: Part 1
Every autumn we forage for fruit to make jams and jellies, but we’ve never tried gathering elderflower. With news from my English friends that their second batches of elderflower cordials, wines and champagnes were all stored away, I reckoned it was a good time to look – our growing season is a fair few weeks behind in northern Scotland.
Jon goes mountain-biking regularly in Quarrelwood, Elgin, and he swore that he’d seen lots in flower. So on Saturday morning we armed the minxes with little identification tick lists downloaded from the extremely useful www.naturedetectives.org.uk and set off in search.
After passing lots of flowering rowan, Jon had to sheepishly admit that maybe he’d been passing the trees a little too fast to properly identify them... Still, the minxes enjoyed working in cahoots with each other: Midi spotted different flowers and trees and found their photos on the checklists; Maxi read out from the checklist what the plant was (Midi can’t read yet); then both girls distracted their sister, Mini, from eating or picking it. We also kept Mini out of trouble by encouraging her to stash her treasure (pine cones and shrivelled leaves, mostly) in the little collecting jar Jon made her last year out of a plastic lidded fruit pot and length of string.
We finally found a little tree with some flowering blooms (hooray!) by using our noses. The minxes had fun shaking out the insects and deciding which flower heads to collect and which to leave ‘to turn into elderberries for the birds’. They are currently steeping in a small bowl in the kitchen...
I’ll let you know how the champagne turns out! But in the meantime, can you recommend what types of bottles and jars you use to store yours in? Plastic? Glass? Screw-top?