21.6.13

HOMEMADE ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL

Elderflower cordial is one of my favorite soft drinks. I've never been one to drink fizzy drinks and occasionally have a Ribena, but I always make sure we have a bottle of elderflower cordial at home. So last year, when the elderflowers were out and blooming I was determined to make some cordial. Unfortunately it rained and rained and rained during their flowering season, so the flowers didn't seem as fragrant as they normally do, and I left it, promising myself I would make some this year. Which is exactly what I've done.

Elderflowers are best picked on a sunny late May/early June day, when the flowers are creamy white.

Elderflower cordial is pretty easy to make. Other than the initial mixing process, all it then involves is the patience to let the flowers stew in the syrup for 48 hours - our fridge smells delicious when I open the door!


You want your flowers as fresh as possible, so I suggest starting the recipe, then picking the flowers just before you need to add them. If you aren't lucky enough to live really close to elderflower trees, then you can pick it, rinse it and leave it in the colander to drain whilst you make the syrup. You don't really want to leave the flowers picked for more than a couple of hours though. I'm lucky enough to live in an area that's saturated with elderflower trees, although I'm not sure why I picked the one with the highest flowers!



Makes about 2 litres of cordial, to be diluted with water when drunk

1.5 litres boiling water
1.2kg caster sugar
3 lemons
2 limes
60g citric acid
About 40 heads of elderflower
 
 
Before you pick your elderflower you want to make the syrup, as this needs to cool completely before you add the flowers. Pour the boiling water over the sugar, and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Quarter your lemons and limes and add these to the syrup. Leave the bowl of syrup to cool completely.


When the syrup is nearly cold, pop out to pick the elderflower.


Check each head of elderflower and remove any bugs, leaves or brown bits.

Add the citric acid to the syrup mixture and stir. You can buy citric acid from any good pharmacy, and you just need to tell them it's to make cordial (apparently citric acid has a more sinister use, although I'm not sure what that is!)


Tip all of the elderflower heads into the bowl of syrup and stir well. Cover loosely with cling film, and pop in the fridge. It now needs to stew for 48 hours, during which time you need to stir the cordial each morning and evening.


By the end of day 2, the cordial should be ready to strain and start drinking. Pour the mixture through a muslin-lined sieve into another bowl.

Now's the time to decide if you want to bottle your syrup, or freeze it as ice cubed cordial. If bottling, ensure the bottle that you are decanting into is sterile. Do this by putting in the oven on low for 10 minutes, or rinse it several times with boiling water and allow to dry. If you want to make ice cubes, that can then be added to a glass of water, then pour the syrup into an ice cube tray and freeze. I like to split my syrup between the two - some in a bottle to drink immediately, and some as ice cubes for when the bottle is finished. Freezing the cordial makes it last longer. Although as you've used citric acid, even the bottled cordial should last for a couple of months in the fridge.

Either way, mix a little cordial with a large glass of cold water, and drink the taste of summer! Or if you fancy something a little stronger, try elderflower cordial, vodka and soda water for a really delicious summery cocktail. One other delicious alternative is to mix one part elderflower cordial, with 8 parts lemonade, and freeze in a lolly pop mould to make a refreshing ice lolly.
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