As a child, elderflower cordial always seemed like a very grown-up drink – though we drank it with soda water or tap water. My family always loved foraging in the hedgerows to make a variety of home-made wines, which until I was much older I was not allowed to drink! It was always great fun to collect the elderflowers and always picked more than was needed just to get the best ones for the cordial. It is really refreshing on a hot sunny day and tastes great!
20/25 Sprays of elderflower heads – picked on a fine day when the fragrance is intense and not near a road
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon – both unwaxed
Sugar – unrefined will give a darker cordial.
1. Snip the flower heads from the main stems and place in a large bowl.
2. Pour boiling water over them – just enough to cover and press them well down.
3. Cover and steep until cold or overnight.
4. Strain the liquid through muslin and squeeze all the liquid out.
5. Measure the liquid and put in a pan and for every 500ml (18fl oz) add 350g (12oz) of sugar and up to 50ml (2flozs) lemon juice.
6. Taste to make sure your cordial is neither too sharp nor too sweet by adjusting the lemon juice.
7. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar stirring occasionally and then bring to the boil, just to thicken the syrup – about 2 minutes at the most but every batch seems to be different.
8. Strain again through muslin to remove any scum and pour into clean sterilised bottles.
9. Seal with screw caps, or corks, and keep in the fridge. I like to use the mini wine bottles that are dark green.
10. Serve diluted with chilled fizzy or soda water.
The cordial can be used to flavour home-made ice-cream, mousses etc.
NB this recipe can be doubled, trebled, however much you want to make.