Elderflower, Rose and Strawberry Sorbet
Summer Solstice, Adonia, St. John’s Feast Day, Jāņi, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Mittumaari, Alban Hefin, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, Rasos
Midsummer is only two days away now, a mystical and magic time of the year with long days and short nights………also known as St John’s Day, in France they light bonfires as well as hold family barbecues, with much imbibing of wine and merriment. In the UK, we used to celebrate Midsummer, or Midsummer’s Eve, with bonfires as well as feasting and merrymaking too, but sadly that’s not the case any more. I think it’s a shame that we have let these ancient traditions slide, especially when many other European and Scandinavian countries still celebrate this special time of the year.
I always think of Midsummer being a time of berries and fruit, as well as summer salads; so, when I was thinking of new recipes I would create for Midsummer this year, I turned to Belvoir Fruit Farms and my garden harvest for inspiration and created today’s recipe for Elderflower, Rose and Strawberry Sorbet. Being a HUGE fan of elderflowers, as regular readers will know, I was thrilled to be invited to visit and help with the elderflower harvest at Belvoir HQ in Lincolnshire last week. I stayed overnight at the very comfortable and lovely Chequers Inn the night before, where I enjoyed a superb dinner and a freshly cooked full English breakfast next day.
The next day, Pev Manners, managing director of Belvoir Fruit Farms, collected me from the Inn and we made our way to the Belvoir Fruit Farms via the majestic Belvoir Castle. On our way we also saw one the locals picking elderflowers, to bring to the factory later on, where anyone can bring their elderflower harvest and receive £2 a kilo for their efforts – I think it’s a wonderful way for Belvoir to collect these fragrant flowers (for their cordial making process), as well engaging with the local community. I later witnessed everyone arriving with their bags of blossom, to be weighed and paid, and there was quite a lengthy queue! The flowers they collect and sell to Belvoir will then be made to Pev’s mother’s original recipe, which is what makes Belvoir elderflower cordial so delicious.
Pev took me to their new offices and factory, where I met all of the Belvoir team……we then went off to look for elderflowers on the Belvoir Fruit Farms estate; we went to several sites, some were flowering and others were just about to bloom. Elderflowers are essentially a woodland plant and prefer shelter, which is why you see so many of them growing in hedgerows. They are also greedy when it comes to food, and need lots of fertiliser, with woodland (and hedgerow) mulch being the best way to encourage them to grow. Belvoir Fruit Farms have several elderflower fields scattered in and amongst the arable farm that the family also manage, including 90 acres of organic elderflower plantations for their popular organic range.
Once back at Belvoir HQ, I was then shown around the new factory where the cordials and drinks are made; what impressed me the most about the factory, was just how similar the procedure was to making elderflower cordial at home, but just on a larger scale – the flowers are macerated and drained, just as I make my own cordial, and are then decanted into sterilised bottles before being treated to a bot water bath treatment to ensure a safer and longer shelf life. The bottles are then labelled and boxed before being shipped all over the UK and overseas. (The USA is a big market for Belvoir)
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting day and as an avid lover of all things elderflower, I was inspired to create some new recipes using some of the Belvoir range, of which recipe number one is for Elderflower, Rose and Strawberry Sorbet. This recipe uses Belvoir’s fabulous Elderflower and Rose Cordial as the base for a summery strawberry sorbet. Make this in an ice cream maker for ease and speed, although it is perfectly possible to make it without one too – serve this delectable floral and fruity sorbet with extra strawberries and maybe a stack of home-made shortbread biscuits for a really indulgent treat.
We also enjoyed our bowl of sorbet with a cheeky little glass of ELDERFLOWER AND ROSE PRESSÉ on the side, a Great Taste 2 star winner in 2013, just one of the many awards Belvoir has won. This sorbet recipe is just perfect for all your Midsummer Eve parties and events, especially as elderflowers are steeped in history and are thought to have many magical healing properties, as well preventing evil spirits from entering your house! If you cannot source Belvoir Elderflower and Rose cordial, you can use normal elderflower cordial with a tablespoon of rose water added to the mixture. With thanks to Sophie, Pev and ALL of the Belvoir Fruit Farms team for such and informative and enjoyable day, it was a pleasure to see where these LOVELY drinks and cordials are made. Karen
Belvoir Fruit Farms is located on the beautiful Belvoir (pronounced “beever”) Castle estate, in the idyllic Lincolnshire countryside, not far from Grantham.
Elderflower Recipes on Lavender and Lovage:
Win an Andrew James ICE CREAM MAKER (RRP:£60) coming soon……