I have spent the last couple of summers saying that I wanted to have a go at making some elderflower cordial, but I have only just managed to get around to making some this year! I think it will probably become a tradition. I had a lovely morning walk in the sun to collect the flowers from along the waggonway near to where we live, and I can’t tell you how easy it is to make the cordial. It’s a great way to bottle up a little piece of summer!
I had read so many recipes for it and quite a lot of them use citric acid. I didn’t really want to use this as I’d much prefer to make a completely natural recipe. I can’t actually drink shop bought cordial as it doesn’t agree with me – I realised a few years ago that it causes flares ups and makes me spotty, and having had acne from the age of 8 this is something I like to avoid now that my skin is much better! I’m not sure if it’s the citric acid that causes this but natural was the way to go. I found this recipe through someone I follow on Instagram – it’s written by Julia Smith who blogs at Humphrey and Grace, and she also refers to a recipe for elderflower syrup on A Quiet Style. Instead of adding citric acid you just add extra lemon juice at the end of the process. It means that it won’t keep as long, but to be honest it’s so lovely that it wouldn’t last long anyway!
About 20 – 25 flower heads (you need to pick ones where the flowers are fully open but not yet brown. Pick a few extra if they are small)
2 lemons, sliced
1 3/4 pints of boiling water
Caster sugar – you’ll need 12oz per pint of cordial (further explanation to follow!). I used white instead of golden caster sugar
1 extra lemon to replace the citric acid
1. Wash the flowers and shake them to remove any insects and excess water. Pull off the flowers and place them into a large bowl – if the flowers are fully open they will come off quite easily. It might take a bit more time if not, but that’s ok.
2. Add the two sliced lemons to the bowl and then pour over the boiling water. Cover it with a clean cloth or tea towel and then allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge. Ideally you should leave it overnight at least, but you can leave it for longer if you’d like a more intense flavour. I left it for about a day and a half in the end.
3. When ready, you’ll need to strain it by placing a clean tea towel over another bowl and pouring in the mixture. I actually put my tea towel in a sieve first, which meant that I could use the back of a soup spoon to press more liquid through. Measure the liquid and then work out how much sugar is needed – Julia said that if you have roughly 1 1/2 pints of liquid, you’ll need to add 1 lb 2 oz sugar. I had this exact amount so I didn’t have to do any maths (this is always a relief for me!).
4. Place the liquid and the sugar into a pan, along with the juice of half a lemon for each pint of liquid, and then heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved. You can sterilise the cordial too if you want it to last up to a year, but I didn’t bother with this. You will definitely need to pour it into sterilised bottles though – I used these ones from Lakeland which hold 500ml, and I made 2 bottles. Seal the bottles and then leave them to cool, before placing in the fridge.
You can mix the cordial with still or fizzy water – there are some other ideas on Julia’s blog too. I have also used it in some baking and will be sharing the recipe soon!