Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Elderflower Cordial

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.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Sparkler

This is the ultimate in ultra-refreshing summer cocktails. It also requires zilch effort, so is perfect for those lazy days where you can barely drag yourself off your sun lounger!

Photo by Hannah Hughes, Props by Lauren Miller, Food and Recipe by me.  


1 shot elderflower cordial (shop bought is fine, but if you do make your own, all the better)
1 shot gin (optional- depending on whether you have plans for the rest of the day I suppose...)
Mint sprig
Cucumber ribbon (use a vegetable peeler)
Lime wedge
Ice-cold Prosecco or fizz of your choice (tonic or sparkling water for a mocktail)
Chilled cocktail glass


1. Squeeze your lime wedge into a pre-chilled cocktail glass, add a spring of mint, and your cucumber ribbon.

2. Pour about a shot of elderflower cordial into the glass- the amount you use really depends on the strength of the cordial you are using, and how strong you like your elderflower to be.

3. Add a shot of gin if you're ready to party (optional). Give it all a good stir stir and leave for a few minutes to let the flavours meld and get to know each other.

4. Top up with your fizz of choice, give it a quick stir and serve immediately. Now I've made myself thirsty writing this so don't mind if I do....cheers!