It’s the end of June and elder trees are still abundant with gorgeous, fragrant elderflowers (in the UK anyway). These are too good to go to waste, so here’s my Dad’s fool proof elderflower cordial recipe. It’s a really refreshing, flowery-flavoured drink which is delicious diluted with still or sparkling water, or mixed with Prosecco for a summery cocktail.
Elderflowers have been used in herbal medicine by different cultures all over the world and have many health benefits. And just so you know, in France elderflower cordial is called ‘sirop de sureau’ – go on, try saying that with a heavy French accent! Here's the recipe...
35-40 elderflower heads (see image)
2 lemons, sliced thinly
2.5 pints (1.6L) water
3 lbs (1.3kg) white sugar (granulated is fine)
25g of citric acid (available in pharmacies or online)
Top tips to make an excellent batch of cordial:
You can find elder trees all over the place – around playing fields, on the side of foot paths, any patch of waste ground really. Don’t confuse elderflowers with cow parsley, which looks quite similar but grows up from the ground on a thick stalk rather than on a tree.
Pick them on a dry day and if possible when they have had a bit of sun on them as the blossom is even more fragrant. Snip off the blossom heads with scissors.
Pick them away from roads and traffic fumes – you don’t want carbon monoxide flavoured cordial. Likewise, don't pick low hanging elderflowers which might have been peed on by dogs!
If you have an ornamental elder tree (such as the ‘Black Beauty’ variety) in your garden, you can use the blossoms for this recipe and it will produce the most amazing bright pink cordial!
Bottle the cordial in small glass bottles, say a quarter litre, and give as a wonderful home-made gift. You can reuse vinegar bottles for this.
You can also use elderflower blossom to make fritters – a sort of flowery tempura. Here’s a simple and delicious recipe from Nigel Slater.
And later in the year, any flowers which haven't been picked will grow into elderberries, which you can make into delicious jam, full of immune boosting antioxidants. Check out my recipe here!
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