As soon as I see the first elderflower heads blooming in May, my mind goes to straight to cordial. It's a ritual of mine at this time of year. As with a lot of cooking, I find making cordial a very calming and happiness-inducing pass time. I like to spend time seeking out the optimum elderflower bush, gathering the fragrant flowery heads, then steeping them in lemony syrup overnight, and straining through muslin the next day. It's a task I particularly love to share with my Mum, but as she's recently moved up North to Cumbria, I was on my own this year (cue tiny violin...). But it's not all bad news, I found a fabulous pink elderflower bush, so I added a few heads of that to this years' batch. The result was a pretty pink liquid- amazing really as I only added about 5 heads of the pink variety.
This cordial is just summer in a glass. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do! And if you want to turn it into a zesty little cocktail, have a look at my Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Sparkler recipe.
20-25 elderflower heads (white or pink, or a mix)
1.5 kg white sugar (caster or granulated)
3 x lemons
75g of citric acid (from a chemist)
1. Place the sugar in a large saucepan, and add 1.5 litres (2.5 pints) of water. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Do not allow it to boil.
2. Meanwhile rinse the elderflower heads in water to get rid of any bugs.
3. Peel the lemon rind with a vegetable peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
4. When the sugar has fully dissolved in the water, remove from the heat and add the lemon slices and rind, elderflower heads, and citric acid. Give it a stir, then cover with a lid, and leave off the heat overnight, for around 24 hours, to steep.
5. When ready to bottle (my favourite part), line a colander with some fine muslin or a clean tea towel, and place over a large bowl. Ladle your cordial, along with all the bits of lemon and elderflower, into your lined colander, and allow to drain through into the bowl beneath. Push down on the lemon and elderflower with the ladle to fully extract all the juices and flavours. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your bowl.
6. You will be left with a lovely clear (in my case pink) cordial, which you can pour into sterilised bottles (either put the bottles through the dishwasher, or wash in hot soapy water, and place in a low temperature oven for 10 mins or so until dry). You can also pour the cordial into ice trays and freeze it, to enjoy all year round. It will keep for around 6 weeks in the fridge.
Serve it with plenty of ice and still or sparkling water.