Elderflower cordial is a wonderfully refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drink that is easy to make at home (provided, of course, you have access to fresh elderflowers!) Unlike most purchased sodas, it doesn’t contain any artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
Fortunately, elder trees are common here; in fact, the elderflowers for this cordial were collected from the back of our allotment!
The cordial is a concentrate that is diluted with water when serving. How much water you add is personal preference, we typically use about one part cordial to five or six parts water. Either still or sparkling water can be used, though it is especially nice with sparkling water.
This recipe is from my FIL’s brother’s wife, Anna.
|900g||granulated sugar||2 pounds|
|850ml (1-1/2 UK pints)||water||3-2/3 cups|
|45g||citric acid||1-1/2 ounces|
1. First collect the elderflowers. You can cut the elderflower heads off, but the disadvantage to this is that you reduce the number of elderberries later in the season. A better way is to collect the elderflowers directly from the trees. Choose heads whose flowers have fully opened, but have not yet begun to turn brown. With one hand, hold a collecting container under the flower head (I used a jug, as having a handle made it easier), then with the other hand, gently pull the flower petals off into the container. I’ve discovered that the flowers are easiest to collect from elderflower heads that are fully open, if you choose heads whose flowers are not all fully open, the petals don’t come off easily. The flower petals from twenty elderflower heads will be around 500ml dry measure.
2. Zest the lemon and set zest aside. Cut white pith from around the lemon and discard. Cut lemon in half lengthwise and thinly slice.
3. Boil the water, and dissolve the sugar in it. In a large heat-proof glass or ceramic bowl, combine the sugar water with the elderflowers, lemon zest and slices, and citric acid. When cool, cover with cloth or cling film.
4. Stir daily with wooden or plastic spoon for four to five days.
5. Strain through a colander lined with muslin, and transfer to sterilised heavy glass bottles. (Sterilise bottles by swishing with boiling water, but make certain bottles are heavy glass or they may break.) Store in a cool place. Once opened, keep in fridge.
6. To serve, dilute with water to taste.
Makes about 1-1/4 litres (42 ounces), enough to make about 7-1/2 to 9 litres (8 to 9-1/2 US quarts) of prepared beverage.