SPRING is finally here, although it only seems like yesterday we built an igloo in the garden and the, ‘Beast from the East’ was threatening to close the kids’ school for another week!

This current late spring has been disastrous for farmers, putting crops on hold, and has meant livestock being housed for longer, costing enormous amounts of money and inconvenience. Thankfully things are looking up.

For me, when wild garlic begins to show in the woods, it marks the beginning of spring, and that means my foraging season has begun. After the wild garlic comes the elder tree blossom and that’s when I really know spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner!

Elderflowers alongside wild garlic are in my opinion, the finest examples of readily-available wild food – they are widespread and common in woods and hedgerows, and the flavour and aroma of Elderflowers are second to none. Their scent of summer and sunshine fills the fields with happiness and when they bloom winter is long forgotten.

Elderflowers are recognisable by their clusters of tiny creamy-white flowers, blooming from late May until late July. They are best foraged on a hot sunny day when the pollen count is at its highest and they’ll be at their peak for flavour.

When picking, cut the elderflower clusters whole with about 5cm of stem attached. Always ensure they are relatively free from insects and give them a good shake. Never wash the heads as this will diminish the aroma.

Elderflowers can be used in a variety of pickles and preserves. They pair really well with gooseberry and strawberries; they can be dipped in egg then flour and fried to make elderflower fritters; or made into a delicious cordial.

The one thing I make religiously every year elderflower champagne, which is delicious, easy to make and mildly intoxicating!

I’m sharing a recipe with my own twist this month so you can have a go at making it too. This recipe makes a fantastic fizzy celebration-type drink for special occasions, barbecues, or just a drink in the sunshine with your loved ones.

The fizz in Elderflower Champagne is generated by an active yeast which keeps going, so this means that half-drunk flat bottles just need to be put back in the fridge for a couple of days and they will get fizzy again. You can also keep the drinks bottled for up to four months, however they must regularly be ‘burped’ (gas released) so they do not explode!

Why not have a go at some local foraging this spring and make your own?