From late May to June we can smell the sweet scent of elder flowers in the air. We are fortunate to have elder bushes growing in our hedgerows as well as a purple variety (that produces pink flowers) we have planted around the garden and fields.
We take full advantage of the elder flowers by making a lovely aromatic cordial for drinking all year round. I thought I would share the recipe.
- 25 freshly picked elder flower heads (washed to remove any bugs!) If you use pink elder flowers, the final cordial will have a lovely pink hue.
- 1 Kg of granulated sugar
- Juice and zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
- 1 Heaped teaspoon of citric acid
- 4 screw cap or swing top bottles 500ml in size (I re-use Grolsch bottles - a good excuse to drink beer)
The recipe makes about 2 litres of cordial
- Large bowl
- Pan to heat 1.5 litres of water
- Muslin or jelly bag to strain the liquid
- You will need to leave the syrup overnight, so this recipe will take 24 hours to make.
- Give the elder flower heads a good shake to remove any insects. Alternatively, wash them, however, this may remove some of the flavour.
- Strip the white/pink petals and little flowers off the green storks. We use a fork to do this. By removing the green stem, you reduce the chance of tannin (slightly astringent) taste in the final cordial, although most people don't notice this.
- Place the petals in a large bowl or pan together with the lemon zest.
- Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil and pour over the flowers and zest.
- Cover and leave overnight to allow the lovely scent of the flowers to infuse into the liquid.
- Next day, strain the liquid through the muslin (use four layers if you can) or a jelly bag and pour into a saucepan.
- Add the sugar, lemon juice and citric acid to the liquid.
- Gently heat the resulting liquid to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Using a funnel, pour the hot syrup into the sterilised bottles (leave an air gap of about 1.5cm at the top of the bottle) and seal immediately.
To serve the cordial, dilute to taste (normally a small amount at the bottom of a glass or jug). Mix with still or sparkling water. Even better try adding it to sparkling wine!
Using this method the cordial will last for about 3 months in the bottles. Once a bottle has been opened, it should be refrigerated. However, if you would like the cordial to last longer you can sterilise the cordial. This is done as follows:
- Fill the bottles leaving an air gap for expansion of about 2.5cm in the neck of the bottle. Seal swing top bottles, or lightly screw caps onto the bottles.
- Place the bottles into a pan on a tea-towel or wire rack.
- Fill the pan with water to the level of the fluid in the bottles.
- Heat the pan until the water is 88 degrees centigrade. Maintain this temperature for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn off the heat, and lightly tighten the screw cap lids. Leave to cool.