Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Homemade strawberry jam with elderflowers

The taste of summer (elderflowers) and their medicinal, anti-viral qualities can be enjoyed in many desserts, drinks and snacks. Here I share my Elderflower and Strawberry Jam recipe, which is delicious on toast and a divine filling for my moreish Elderflower Doughnuts.

This is an easy recipe for making strawberry jam from fresh strawberries. I also share how to make jam set, how to use this jam and why strawberries and elderflowers are good for you.

Fresh Cornish strawberries with elderflowers

Fresh, healthy strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and K and also contain a good amount of fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium. It's healthy to include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Seasonal, local strawberries are the best and, luckily, they often ripen at a similar time to elderflowers, making them perfect companions.

Summer elderflowers and strawberry jam

Elderflowers

Elderflowers are my seasonal wild food of the month! A wonderful anti-viral with a gorgeous scent, they can help treat colds, flu, coughs and bronchial infections.

Homemade jam with fresh strawberries

My Elderflower and Strawberry Jam Recipe

I'm often inspired by the seasons, the wild foods surrounding me - their taste, smell and texture and fellow cooks that I admire. Darina Allen is one such cook, her traditional family recipes are some of my 'go-to' ones, and this recipe was inspired by her Mummy's Strawberry Jam recipe.

I've added a wild twist, of course.

Makes 1.3 kg jam (approx)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries
  • 800 g golden granulated sugar
  • 5-8 elderflower heads (flowers forked off and stems discarded)
  • 50 ml elderflower cordial (or lemon juice)

Take off the green tops of the strawberries and rinse if needed, you then need to make sure they're are really dry. You can gently pat them dry with a tea towel. Once dry, place in a stainless steel saucepan - it will be easier if you use one that's bigger than the one I used above!

Sprinkle in the elderflowers (removed from the stems) and the elderflower cordial or lemon juice, next you'll be adding the sugar. According to Darina Allen, the best way to make jam from fresh strawberries is to heat the sugar first. This isn't essential but might make a better jam!

To heat the sugar, place it in a stainless steel bowl in a preheated oven to 180/160C fan/350F/Gas 4. Heat for 15 minutes then pour evening over the strawberries and elderflowers. Alternatively, pour over the sugar cold. Cover and leave for 12-24 hours. Overnight should be suffice, but I left mine for 24 hours and all the strawberry juices had really started to come out - yum!

Infused strawberries, sugar and elderflowers

It may sound like a lot of sugar, but this will help preserve the strawberries and at least it is unrefined rather than white caster sugar!

The combination of fruit, sugar, heat and lemon juice will ensure that your jam sets. The citrus juice in the elderflower cordial is also enough to set the jam - and it's my preference to use the cordial.

Next bring the pan to the boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Mash the fruits with a potato masher, or a blender stick. I used a blender stick as I wanted a smooth jam I could use in elderflower doughnuts, but you might want a more rustic one for sandwiching together cakes, mixing in rice pudding, spreading on scones or smothering over toast.

Leave the jam to boil for about half an hour. You can use a jam thermometer if you prefer or test the jam by taking a teaspoon of the jam and placing on a cold saucepan. Move the jam around, if it starts to wrinkle at the edges as it cools, then it is ready.

Decant into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Bowl of strawberry and elderflower jam

Elderflowers are one of the plants I cover on some my summer foraging courses. I teach foraging throughout the year - helping you connect to the abundance of health-giving foods available on your doorstep.

Elderflower fritters

Elder Flower-Head Fritters are a classic wild food recipe for these edible wild flowers. The combination of batter and a hint of elderflower is utterly delicious.

What's more, you can turn them savoury or sweet and here's my winning versions with an extra light batter recipe, plus suggestions for turning them into a starter, main accompaniment or dessert.

Man holding an elderflower head

These are quick and easy and can be turned savoury or sweet. I love them dipped in soy sauce and lemon for a tangy, savoury snack. Hmmm, but they're equally nice served with ice cream or dusted with a light coating of icing sugar.

*TOP TIPS: For a light batter use half plain flour and half corn flour

Elderflower Fritter Recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 200 ml ice-cold water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 100 g sifted plain wheat or buckwheat flour (or half flour and half corn flour)*
  • 2–3 ice cubes
  • Sunflower oil, for frying
  • 16 elderflower heads flower heads, stalks intact

Cover a couple of large plates with kitchen paper (if you have). Pour the ice-cold water into a mixing bowl, mix in the egg, add the flour and roughly fold it in with a fork. Do not beat it – the batter should be lumpy. Add the ice cubes.

Heat at least 2.5 cm oil in a wok or a frying pan (I like to shallow fry rather than deep fry and use a small pan to do this). The oil is hot enough when a drop of batter bubbles and turns golden in 5–10 seconds.

Hold a flower head by the stalk, wipe it through the batter to coat it all over, allowing any excess batter to drip off. Keep hold of the stem while dropping the coated flower head into the oil. Using the stalk, turn it if necessary and cook until golden and crisp, then remove and place on the kitchen paper. Repeat with all the flower heads. To serve, either snip off the main stems or eat the flower heads and discard the stems as you eat them.

How to serve these elderflower fritters?

Savoury: As a starter or serve alongside risotto or fish with a blend of soy sauce and lemon (half and half)

Dessert: Dust with icing sugar and serve with a squeeze of lemon, or have with ice cream.

For more recipes and information about elderflowers search my summer blog and find;

  • When NOT to pick elderflowers
  • How to make Elderflower cordial and sorbet
  • Quick elderflower layered sponge
  • How to dry elderflowers
  • How to freeze elderflowers
  • Picking the last of the elderflowers
  • Elderflower and strawberry jam
  • Moreish Elderflower doughnut recipe
  • and more....
Afternoon tea with foraged Elderflower doughnuts in Cornwall

For me, Summer is about outdoor adventures, picnics, barbecues, fayres, festivals and the beach. Elderflowers are the perfect accompaniment, unless it's a festival or fayre - then it's doughnuts!

Here I share my ultimate elderflower doughnut recipe - they're gorgeous!

Yes, doughnuts are fayre food for me, when I’m tired and hungry from dancing it’s the smell of doughnuts that I sniff the air for. Created following a mini disaster – my Cornish town’s annual fayre and no doughnut van in sight – they are a delightful summery twist on the hot sugary ones I yearned for. Complete with a gorgeous soft, jam centre and sweet elderflower coating, these are melt-in-the-mouth with a double dose of elderflower to keep spirits high. 

For this recipe you'll need to first make elderflower cordial - here's my simple elderflower coridal recipe, plus lots of information about where to find elderflowers, when to pick them, what the benefits of elderflowers are. You can also find tips on when to avoid elderflowers.

Elderflower, lemon and orange cordial

Elderflower Doughnut Recipe

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp unrefined caster sugar
  • 135 ml milk                                                   
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 275 g plain flour (replacing 25 g with wholemeal flour if you wish)
  • 200-300 ml vegetable oil, for frying
  • 150 g strawberry and elderflower jam or elderflower and pear jam.

Iced coating

Warm the milk in a small pan, take 2 tablespoons of the warm milk and mix with the yeast and a pinch of sugar and leave until it gets frothy. Meanwhile, cube the butter and gently plop into the milk, mixing until the butter dissolves. In a large bowl, sieve the flour and add the rest of the sugar, make a well in the middle and add the frothy yeast, buttery milk and the egg. Mix then knead and stretch for 5 minutes, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Afternoon tea with foraged Elderflower doughnuts in Cornwall

Dust a large baking tray with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes, break the dough into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball and place on the baking tray. Cover and leave to rise for half an hour or until doubled in size. Prepare a couple of dinner plates with kitchen paper and heat the oil in a deep pan to 190°C or until a small piece of dough dropped in the oil sizzles and floats to the surface. Using a slotted spoon, drop 2-4 dough balls into the oil and fry until golden brown, turn over and brown on the other side. Remove and place on the kitchen paper, repeat with the remaining dough balls. Using a filling nozzle, flavour injector or a teaspoon, make a small slot in the side of each doughnut and fill with jam. To finish off, in a small bowl mix the icing sugar with the elderflower cordial and dunk the top of each doughnut in the icing. Eat warm or cold.

jar of elderberry jelly with chocolate muffins

Elderberry Jelly is full of antiviral properties that can stave off some strains of flu and shorten the duration of others. It's particularly useful for the elderly and young children. Elderberries are the fruits of the elder tree, which are a member of the umbellifer family. Correct identification is essential. Elderberries should always be cooked.

Elderberry and Apple Jelly

A traditional, spreadable elderberry jelly, lightly spiced, and a great sandwich filling for chocolate cake or chocolate muffins. Do let me know if you try this recipe!

 

Makes 1 jar

 

Ingredients

300 g elderberries

150 g chopped apple

150 g unrefined sugar

90 ml water

2 tbsp mixed spice, whole or ground

 

Put all the ingredients, except the sugar, into a small saucepan over a low heat, allow to simmer for 20 minutes, mashing occasionally to help brake the fruits down. Mash through a sieve, extracting as much juice and pulp as possible. Return to a clean pan, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and using a sugar thermometer, bring to about 95°C, or until long strands suspend from a spoon when dipped into the syrup. Take off the heat and pour into a small bowl and put aside to cool. Store in a sterilised jar.

If you try this recipe, do remember to let me know or tag me on facebook or instagram, where you can also follow what I'm up to more regularly. Elderberries are one of the plants I teach on the autumn foraging courses, read more about elderberries on my blog Taking care of the  Elders.

basket of elderberries

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