This is another example of free food, a hedgerow treat, which can be picked now and stored in bottles for a taste of summer in the winter months.
It’s a delicate cordial, a delicious treat simply mixed with sparkling water or made into a sophisticated cocktail.
It is too easy to just buy a bottle of commercially produced cordial, but making your own can be fun and if you are using elderflowers all you are paying for is some sugar, a couple of lemons and an hour or so of your time.
This is what you’ll need:
One carrier bag of elderflowers (be warned, this is quite a few flowerheads and will be around 750g in weight)
1 kg unrefined sugar (you need a fair amount of sugar to make a cordial that will keep, but once it’s made you can dilute it for drinks or to make a jelly with seasonal fruits)
2 lemons, washed and halved
4 litres of tap water
This is what you do:
Pick only the white flowerheads, avoiding those that have started to go a bit brown.
I use a small pair of sharp scissors to cut the stems close to the flowerhead.
The flowerheads are made up off clusters of tiny white flowers with yellow stamens.
Remove any leaves and excess stems from the flowersheads, shake out any insects and remove as much yellow pollen as you can.
Place the sugar, flowerheads and water in a non-reactive pan (or pans), squeeze in the lemon juice and the add the lemon halves.
For 4 litres of water I used two Le Creuset cast iron pans of 7 litre and 4.3 litre capacity.
Put the lids on the pans, bring the water to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and leave the flowers to infuse for 24 hours in the covered pans, stirring every so often.
The scent is quite heady!
When ready, strain through a muslin cloth and store in sterilized bottles.
To improve the keeping quality, immerse the filled bottles in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes, then leave to cool in the water and store in a cool placce.
I am going to try and freeze some of the cordial and will let you know if this affects the quality.
That’s all there’s to it!
Give it a go and let me know how your home made cordial compares with the commercially produced varieties.