The humble elderflower, growing rampant on commons and often just where we don’t want it in a garden, neither looks nor smells particularly promising. Yet, mysteriously, it gives to cordials and sorbets, and to gooseberries and apricots, a divine flavour reminiscent of the best muscatel grapes.
Top and tail the gooseberries. Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones. Put the fruit into a saucepan with the sugar and the strained orange and lemon juice. Add barely enough water almost to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and shake in just the flowers from the elderflower heads. Return to the heat and boil for another 5 minutes or so until the fruit is just soft. Dissolve the gelatine in the hot water and stir into the fruit mixture. Pour into a 2–2¼-pint (1.2–1.3-litre) metal pudding basin or jelly mould, cool, and then leave to set in the fridge.
Before serving, dip the basin briefly in hot water and turn the jelly out on to a serving plate. Serve with cream and decorate with fresh elderflowers.
© 1985 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.