As a cordial, slushie or in a fragrant soda, this seasonal drink recalls floral dessert wines.
Nature's serendipity never ceases to amaze. Throughout the year she brings us ingredients that match perfectly. Think Jersey royals and spring's young mint, apple and blackberry, turnips and . . . hmmm.
Anyway, the flavour-match at this time of year is elderflowers and gooseberries. Together worth so much more than the sum of their parts.
This recipe is the creation of Jojo Tulloh, a wonderful cookery writer - kind of Elizabeth David and MFK Fisher rolled into one - who has an allotment near us in east London and weaves delicate magic with its produce. It is taken from her new book The Modern Peasant, which is as elegant and original as her recipes. Beautiful prose. Woodcut-style illustrations instead of photographs. And little gems like this.
Elderflower and gooseberry "muscat" syrup
Hard green gooseberries and the sweet-scented creamy white blossoms of the elder combine to make a syrup that magically tastes of the muscatel grape used to make sweet pudding wines. You can use this syrup as a cordial, to make a superior slushie or as the basis for a very delicate-flavoured dessert jelly. It's delicious over ice with fizzy water.
Makes 1 x 75cl bottle
8 elderflower crowns
1 kg gooseberries (not too ripe), topped and tailed
750g granulated sugar
1 Sterilise a glass screw-cap wine or juice bottle (the hot cycle of the dishwasher is fine).
2 Pick over the elderflowers and remove any insects. Do not wash them, as you will lose much of the flavour. Remove the bitter stalks and tie the flowers up in a muslin bag.
3 In a heavy-bottomed pan heat the water and the sugar very gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. When you have a thickish syrup add the gooseberries and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes until the fruit starts to break apart. Turn off the heat and add the elderflowers in their bag. Allow the flowers to infuse the syrup, taste after 5 minutes, and if they have given a good flavour to the syrup take them out.
4 Drain the mixture through a jelly bag or muslin. When it has stopped dripping (after an hour or two) pour into a clean, sterilised bottle. Store in the fridge.
Recipes by Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter. Henry Dimbleby is co-founder of the fast-food restaurant chain Leon (@henry_leon)
Picture: Flower power: elderflower and gooseberry cordial. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian.