Makes approximately 2 litres. Should keep for at least a year, if you can resist it that long.
You will need:
Large saucepan, or preserving pan, jelly bag or muslin for straining with somewhere to hang this over a pan.
Bottles and lids, which must be sterilised by boiling or with food grade sterilising fluid or tablets such as are used for babies bottles, as directed on the packet.
60 elderflower heads, the flowers need to be just open, dry, loaded with pollen, and NOT have any insects (or very few). They are best picked early in the day as soon as any dew has dried off, and from as far away from traffic as possible.
2.5 litres water
1kg granulated sugar
What you do:
Put the water into the pan and set to boil.
Trim the flowers from the stalks, checking for insects and dirt as you go, discarding anything badly nibbled, dirty, or discoloured.
Cut the lemons into slices or quarters.
Add the flowers and lemons to the boiling water, bring back to the boil, boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and leave to steep for about 8 hours. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavour, like tea.
Set up your jelly bag or muslin with a pan underneath to collect the liquid.
Carefully transfer the cold contents of the pan to the jelly bag, cover, and leave to drain for about 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Discard the flowers and lemons.
Bring the remaining liquid to simmering, pour in the sugar, and bring it up to boiling. Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar dissolves and doesn’t caramelise on the bottom of the pan. Boil for 5 minutes then take off the heat.
Carefully fill your sterilised bottles to within 2cm of the top and tighten the lids on. Allow to cool before moving to a cool cupboard.
Serve chilled with sparkling water at a dilution of 1-4, or with your favourite sparkling wine.