Today I made this year’s batch of Elderflower cordial. The smell was amazing as the flower-heads sat steeping in a bowl on the kitchen counter. It’s not exactly healthy – the recipe called for 1.8kg of caster sugar – but it does taste GOOD. Bottled summer. Elders are such a great small tree – hardy, with beautiful frothy white flowers that you can harvest for cordial, or leave on the plant to turn into dark purple berries for the birds. Yet I’ve never seen one in a garden centre – not exotic enough for us any more, maybe? Pity.
Here’s the recipe I used:
20 elderflower ‘heads’ (a few more if they are smallish, say palm-sized or less)
3 to 6 lemons – sliced (I used 3 as that’s what I had, and it was fine)
1.8kg caster sugar
50g citric acid (buy from a chemists, or online)
1.5 litres boiling water
– pick the flowers away from busy roads or fields that have been recently sprayed; shake out any insects, and run under cold water to wash
– put the flowers in a large bowl, with the lemon slices (and zest, if you want), plus sugar and citric acid
– pour over the boiling water, stir til the sugar is dissolved; leave to steep for 24 hours or so (may be a good idea to cover with a cloth to keep flies off)
– strain through a clean muslin or cloth (I used a clean tea-towel); ie put the cloth in a sieve, place this over a large bowl, then pour the flowery mixture in – so that the cordial can drip through into the bowl, leaving all the gunk behind.
– pour the strained, clear liquid – a funnel helps! – into sterilised bottles or jars (ie that have been put through a hot dishwasher or soaked in boiling water)
Keep in the fridge, don’t keep too long – I’ve also frozen some in the past in plastic bottles, and it seemed to work fine.
To drink, dilute with water, to taste.