Friday, 2 July 2010

Elderflower Cordial

This year I made a batch of elderflower cordial, I've never made it before despite the fact that we've had an elderflower growing in the garden since we moved here in the very early 1990's, in fact it proceeded the house. Still it's taken me until now to try it. Although, if it's good and I try it again, I must remember to take an antihistamine beforehand because I can't stop sniffling now!

Elderflower cordial is one of them things that just reminds me of where I live, the smell of the flowers is one that I really notice around town and I still vaguely remember the first time I had elderflower champagne. We hadn't been living in Blairgowrie for long and we bought a bottle from a local cafe. Magic stuff.

I've also begun noticing it everywhere I do. Taking a run in the car to Perth it seemed that these pretty little flowers were in every hedgerow and I drove my sister mad going "there's one, there's one!" Think now I know how to make this, I will become obsessed but it every elderflower season.

Anyway, I had to make up the recipe a little bit, since none of them ones I found had the same measurements, so here's my mash up of Sophie Grigson's & Madalene's on the British Larder website:


- 30 heads of elderflower
- 75g citric acid
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1.8kg caster or granulated sugar
- 1.5l of water


- Place sugar into a large pan & cover with the water, bring to the boil and leave to cool.
- Shake out the elderflower to get rid of small bugs & beasties & remove as much of the green stalks as possible, placing the flowers into a colander, rinse & put into a large bowl.
- Peel the skin from the lemons and limes and slice before placing into the bowl along with the elderflower - lime isn't in all the recipes but I used it for one batch and not the other. With or without is nice.
- Pour the more or less cooled stock syrup over the flowers and the lemons. It doesn't need to be cold, but it shouldn't be boiling or it will scald the flowers and taste bitter.
- Add citric acid* & stir the mixture.
- Cover in cling film making sure that it makes contact with the surface of the mixture, thus removing most of the air around it.
- Leave to steep at room temperature for two days, stirring from time to time.
- Strain through a sieve to remove larger pieces of fruit and flowers, squeezing out as much of the liquid as possible. Then strain through coffee filters to remove the smaller particles. You could use a fine mesh sieve or sterilised muslin but again I don't have any and coffee filters will do the job just as well and can go into the compost bin. It also means you get a really clear cordial.
- Pour into sterilised bottles.
- Dilute in sparkling water to taste.


*I found citric acid on Amazon & the seller had it to me by Monday (I ordered on Saturday), but I also got some at my local chemist. Beware you will be quizzed over what your purpose for buying citric acid is, just explain that it's for making cordial or jam. I read an article in a magazine today which put this down to drug dealers now cutting heroin with it. Nice.

Also if you suffer from hay fever, take an antihistamine before you start! While I was picking through the elderflower to get rid of the green, my hand turned yellow because I was absolutely covered in pollen!

If you find elderflower near where you live, try this, it's lovely and it genuinely does taste like the cordial you buy. Perhaps not quite a sweet and with a slightly earthier taste, but the accomplishment really does make it even better and of my 'yum yum yum' bottles, I got just over two litres, filling three big bottles and a jug. And that was just the first batch! So in the end, it cost me just about as much to make three bottles as to buy one!

Listening: David Gray - This Years Love

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