Thursday, 4 July 2013

Home-made Elderflower Cordial

When we lived in the country, one of my early summer routines was to make a batch of elderflower cordial. We had elders growing everywhere on the paddock, so on a sunny June (or late May) day, I'd take a large canvas bag with me and go and harvest the young flower heads. 

Since we've moved to London, I haven't really been around during the short 1-2 week window when the flowers are at their best, but this year when I walked the terrier I kept spotting perfect elderflowers all around Shepherd's Cot and Queen's Wood.

Last weekend I decided to make some, and thought you'd like to have my recipe. I use a little less sugar and more lemon, which makes the cordial a little sharper in taste. I also use a little brown sugar for a more interesting colour and taste.

1.5 litres of water
1.5 kg white sugar (castor or granulated)
0.5 kg brown sugar
20 (or so) elderflower heads (choose ones which have just come into bloom)
3 unwaxed lemons
85 g citric acid

This makes about 5 litres of finished cordial.

Put the sugar and water into a large pan and heat up slowly until the sugar dissolves. Then boil the mixture up really quickly and turn off the heat.

Pare the rind off the lemons, and using a sharp knife remove as much of the white skin as possible. Slice the lemons and put the slices and the rind (not the white part of the skin) into the syrup, together with the citric acid.

Wash the elder flowers to remove any insects and add them to the syrup too. Give the mixture a gentle stir and leave for 24 hours.


The next day, using funnel and a muslin cloth, distil the syrup into clean bottles. I put the bottles through the dishwasher and use them when they are hot out of the machine.

I serve the cordial with slices of lemon and ice, or mixed sparkling water. You can also drizzle some over strawberries, or over a fruit salad. The elderflower cordial is also delicious with champagne or white wine, or to make any cocktail where you need a sugar syrup. Plus it makes the perfect non-alcoholic beverage at any party.

The cordial should keep for a few months, but to be safe, I keep mine in the fridge. Although in our house, the stuff disappears within weeks of it being made.


Catherine said...

Love elderflower cordial. Granola is also good made with it.

Bill Nicholls said...

Well I live outside London and Elder is a weed no one takes any notice of. I have heard of elderflower wine but it's not someting I have tried. You always now when the berrys are ripe, the birds ead them and leave the droppings on your car.

Helena Halme said...

Bill, I used to live in the country and used to weed all the elderflowers in the garden which is why we had to go to the paddock to harvest the flowers. The wine is very similar to the cordial, but much more difficult to make (and it takes much longer, so no good for me!)

Catherine, thanks for the tip!


Ethan Marcotte said...

Great. Like to try it at home.Where are the elderflowes available?

Helena Halme said...

Ethan, Elderflower bushes (or are they tress, not sure) grow almost everywhere, but I try to get mine as far away from traffic pollution as possible, which is why I got mine from Queen's Wood in N8. The plant is a weed, really, so you can find them pretty much anywhere in hedges etc.

But hurry, in the south of England, at least, the flowering season is nearly over. Good luck!


PS. My batch is nearly all gone; a cool drink of elderflower cordial is fab in the hot weather we've been having here in London!