Monday, 11 June 2012

Elderflower Cider

I may be known to most as having a passion for cider but when it comes to tubs bubbling away in the corner it does not stop there; My real passion is for the flavours around me. You can see this reflected in my products - Cider, check. Hedgerow Port, mmm. And those three cysers bubbling away for Christmas...

So the sight of white florets of Elderflower in the hedgerow has got me itching.

The beauty of Elder is its ease of picking, either flower or berries, unlike my favourite hedgerow fruit, the Sloe, which takes ages to gather any quantity of, and protects its fruit with thorns that go septic if you get a splinter.

Four  hours picking gathered me this nice pile of flowers:

 Which were soon steeping in cider:
There is a body of opinion, coming from purists and Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs that cider with Elderflower is not cider.

I believe that like me, back in the day the producers would have worked with what was around them to produce the best product possible. So Elder flower and berry, honey, sloe, damson, they are all game.

Its a strange thing, I can add water, malic acid (the acid in apples that give it bite), tannin (the real flavour in cider) and sugar to the point where the beverage stops being cider and becomes a chemical soup, yet HMRC still consider it cider and tax it as cider.

But add another natural product of our fields and hedgerows like honey or elderflower, or augment the tannins in a dessert fruit cider with sloe and it becomes a made wine and is taxed as such.
£1.07 a litre duty instead of 37 pence.  if the alcoholic strength goes over 5.5% the duty goes up by another pound a litre!

These things are sent to try us, but I can work with them. The Elderflower has been steeping a few days now and my test blend is tomorrow.

If all goes well I will have tasters of my Elderflower Cider ready in time for Corsham Food Festival this coming Saturday.