It has become a tradition in our home that every year, in late May or early June, Becki and I make elderflower cordial. It is a quintessentially English drink, best served ice cold on a hot summer’s day. Here’s how we make it – unfortunately we can’t guarantee the weather will oblige!
Before we plunge into the recipe, a quick note on finding the flowers themselves. They grow (unsurprisingly) on the elder tree, which you can find in most parks, and along lanes and roads throughout the country. The flowers are best cut when they have first burst into bloom and have a fresh, sweet scent; after a while they turn brown and develop a more bitter taste.
- 20 elderflower heads
- 1-2 sliced lemons
- 2 tsp of citric acid (available from most chemists)
- 1.5 kg caster sugar
- 2.5 pints boiling water
Start by rinsing the flowers thoroughly in water cold water and cutting off any brown flowers and the stalks. Then put the sugar and citric acid in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water into the bowl, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon slices and elderflowers, and stir again. Cover with a muslin cloth, T towel or similar (I usually keep it in place with a large elastic band) and set aside.
Stir the mixture twice a day for five days, then strain it though a very fine sieve or, better still, a muslin cloth. Decant into a bottle and store in the fridge. As with other cordials, dilute with approx 5 parts sparkling water (or lemonade) to serve.