As fresh to the senses as cut grass or a flute of crisp bubbly, elderflower and gooseberry are a squeaky clean pair of British hedgerow companions – and together they herald the beginning of summer. At the merest hint of sunshine, the elder erupts into a froth of scented blossom and gooseberry branches begin to bend and brace under the weight of their plump, tart fruit.
These two quintessentially British crops are harvested for just a few fleeting weeks, when they are eagerly married together in exquisite cordials, fools, wines and jellies, with the delicate Muscat aroma of the elderflower acting as the perfect counterpart to the explosive, mouth-puckering juice of the gooseberry. The opportunity is short and seductive – with the coming of high summer, the ‘British grape’ and the elder’s lemony scent are gone.
Known as the ‘people’s medicine chest’, the elderflower has been employed for centuries in Britain to create infusions and tinctures for common ailments, and as a cooling natural skin toner. Gooseberries – faeberries in old English – meanwhile are charged with vitamin C and antioxidants.
Britain in a Bottle Noble Isle sources organic elderflower and gooseberry from the abundant Victorian Productive Gardens at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, which grows over 200 varieties of heritage fruit, vegetables and herbs.
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