I love making sparkling (fizzy) drinks for the summer. Children of course generally crave “soft drinks”, but my concern is that they are laden with artificial additives that, even if they do no harm (which is doubtful) they certainly are not doing us any good. They are also really overloaded with sugar. Maybe go for the sugar free diet drinks you might think? Read the labels and you will be horrified at the list of artificial additives on the label.
For the upcoming holiday season why not make your own “soft drinks” from fresh seasonal fruits? Over the next couple of days I will put up a recipe that can be applied to all sorts of fruit, making the most of cheaper prices as the season progresses. The drinks are not only tasty and nutritious but free of artificial additives.
Even some flowers can be used. For instance, we spent the morning, daughter Stephanie and I, down by the Derwent River at New Norfolk picking elderflowers from the multitude of trees that grow so well there. These trees are outstanding with masses of sprays of tiny delicate white flowers with their heady fragrance filling the air around them. We picked three garbage bags full, well almost – a bit excessive perhaps. I plan to make the sparkling elderflower drink that I’ve been making for so many years now. To me it always seems like magic in a bucket – a few simple ingredients turn into a lovely, sparkling, refreshing drink, again totally free of artificial additives.
The recipe of course is in my book “A Year in a Bottle”. I now have an extra tip for anyone who makes it – make sure that you just use the flower heads. It’s simple to do, I just use a pair of scissors. If you include any of the stalk part, it give the drink a grassy type of flavour which is not so nice.
After preparing a couple of batches of the sparking drink, I plan to make elderflower cordial syrup. Now any time I’ve made it before, it’s gone off quite quickly. As I have the luxury of so many elderflowers today, I’m determined to make a cordial that keeps well. It has to be possible, so watch this space as I’ll post the recipe as soon as I’ve mastered it.
For those who would like it, in the meantime here is the recipe for sparkling elderflower. A little tip – you can substitute 300g fragrant (unsprayed) rose petals for the elderflowers to make a truly delightful summer drink. Use any colour rose, but the deep red varieties give the best colour.
3 cups sugar
4 cups boiling water
14 cups cold water
6 medium or 4 large elderflower heads
2 lemons, chopped
2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
Dissolve the sugar in 4 cups of boiling water in a food safe bucket.
Add the other 14 cups of (cold) water, the elderflower heads, lemon and vinegar.
Stir to mix well, then cover with a tea towel.
Allow to stand for 48 hours, then strain (first through a colander, then liquid through a fine sieve), bottle** and seal. (only fill the bottles to the use of the neck).
**PET bottles (such as empty soft drink bottles or buy them new from home brewing shops – they can be re-used) are best as they allow for a degree of expansion without exploding.
The sparkling elderflower will be ready in two weeks, maybe sooner.
Chill before opening, and open carefully.
Makes about 4.5 litres.