The observant amongst you may have noticed that I’ve skipped from number 17 to number 19 in the list of makes for this year. That is because I made a mistake and have two number 17s – oops.
Elderflower cordial one of the best of the late spring/early summer drinks. I made several versions of this last year using different recipes and am using the most successful for this post. This cordial is a favourite of our family, especially when mixed with sparkling water and ice on a hot summer day. The only downside is that the season for elderflowers is short and I find it nearly impossible to keep up production with the speed at which it is drunk in our house!
The elderflowers started appearing on the trees in our area last week so time to get to the shops to buy the rest of the ingredients: sugar (caster is best); lemons and citric acid. The first 2 of these are easy to come by, citric acid not so much. Last year it was scarce but this year it is even more difficult to get hold of.
My first stop to find some was the pharmacy section of our local Sainsburys. ‘No, we are out of stock. No, we won’t be getting more soon. We only get what we are sent and can’t order more. Yes, we know there is a call for it at this time of year, lots of people have been asking for it.’
Second stop was a small branch of Boots in our village. ‘No, we don’t stock this anymore. It can be abused.’ I was curious and in answer to my query the assistant whispered, ‘bombs’. She suggested I try the health food store in the village when I reassured her that all I wanted to make was elderflower cordial.
Third time lucky, ‘Squirrels‘ our local health food store stocked it in its home brew section. I mentioned to the friendly assistant what Boots had said – she was surprised but also told me she had heard of other ways in which it was abused. I had no idea that this simple ingredient would be in such demand. I think I’ll stock up before it becomes a banned substance altogether!
On to the recipe. This is what you will need:
20 heads of elderflowers
1.5 litres water
1.4 kg caster sugar
2 lemons- preferably unwaxed and sliced thinly
50g citric acid
Shake the elderflowers to remove any little bugs, rinse under the tap and place in a large bowl.
Add the sliced lemons to the bowl.
Now put the water into a large pan, add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
Once boiled, remove from the heat and add the citric acid. It will fizz up a bit so make sure you are using a big enough pan.
Add the syrup mixture to the bowl of elderflowers and lemons.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
The next day get ready to bottle the cordial. We drink shop bought elderflower cordial during the rest of the year so I’ve been saving the bottles but you can use just about any screw top glass bottle. You will also need a couple of jugs, a ladle, some muslin (I’ve heard some people use a J cloth – I use a jelly-making fine mesh bag) and a funnel.
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 1/140C/275F/. Wash the bottles in hot soapy water, rinse and drain. Place the bottles in the oven for at least 30 minutes. (Use oven gloves to remove them from the oven.)
While the bottles are in the oven, boil a kettle and scald the jugs, funnel, ladle, muslin and bottle tops.
Once the bottles are sterilised, place the funnel inside the first one and the muslin inside one of the jugs. Ladle the elderflower mixture into the muslin and then when the jug is full, rest the muslin in the other jug and transfer the cordial to the bottles, screwing the tops on as each is filled. (I say this as I’ve swiped a full but uncapped bottle off the counter with my arm before now).
The bottles will keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 months. It will freeze too (but not in a glass bottle!).