Elderflower Cordial is summer in a glass. Light, sweet and full of the scent of summer. The elder tree begins to flower in hedgerows (and wherever the tree crops up) in early summer and this is the best time to collect the flower heads – just before they are all open. Make sure you collect them when it is warm and dry rather than during or after rain. You will be able to tell if they are ripe for collecting by the smell. Leave enough flowers to produce elder berries later in the season which will bring even more joy.
Elderflower Cordial is so easy to make. It stores well for three to four weeks in the fridge or keeps in the freezer for six months or so. This recipe does not use citric acid (vitamin C) which will extend the storage capacity to three to four months. If you do wish to use citric acid (available from chemists) you can add 75 grams with the orange and lemon juice at the end of step 3 below.
As well as the traditional drink you can also use Elderflower Cordial to make a wonderful sorbet, ice lollies or gently cook with acidic fruits such as gooseberries to make a lovely stewed fruit.
Elderflower Cordial is gluten-free and vegan as well as… celery free, coconut free, garlic free, lupin free, mustard free, nightshade free, onion free, peanut free, sesame free, soya free, tree nut free.
The best way to sterilise jars, funnels and other equipment is in the dishwasher. Just make sure when you remove items from the dishwasher you do not ‘de-sterilise’ them by touching any inside surface.
Serves makes around 2.5 litres
Preparation time 10 minutes (plus steeping overnight)
Cooking time 10 minutes
30 elderflower heads
2 litres boiling water
1 kilogram sugar
Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
Zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons
1. Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects, dirt, debris and dead flowers. Place the flower heads in a large bowl with the orange and lemon zest.
2. Bring 2 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and zest. Cover with a tea towel and leave to steep overnight
3. Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, orange and lemon juice. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes
4. Use a sterilised funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks. Allow to cool and store in the fridge or freezer
5. To serve as a drink dilute one part Elderflower Cordial to three-four (or more!) parts still or sparkling water.