25 Jun 2010
I love elderflower cordial, but it had never occurred to me to make my own until early this summer when recipes seemed to be popping up everywhere. I started looking around for the flowers in late May which was a little too early, by a few weeks later they were everywhere.
So for the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with different recipes, merging and adapting them to one I like. I found most were too sweet for me so I reduced the sugar to liquid ratio and I added more elderflower heads than most recommended, but the beauty of a recipe like this is it’s easy to alter to your own taste.
I followed some basic advice on picking the elderflowers well away from roads to avoid the risk of them being polluted, any canal-side towpath near me is teeming with them right now. I picked the flowers when the sun was out and the flowers were fresh and white, avoiding any that were starting to brown. Although the flowers have already been out for a few weeks where I live there’s still plenty around, it’s good to pick flower heads that still have a few closed buds on them so you know the rest are freshly opened.
The cordial needs to be left to infuse so the process does take around 24 hours, but don’t let this put you off! It really is very simple to do and the resulting cordial is so much more fresh and fragrant than shop bought.
Also don’t be daunted by the need for fancy equipment, I simply used a big bowl to infuse the flowers in the liquid over night, and to strain it I used a piece of muslin cloth (easy to find in a cooking, fabric or craft shop) stretched loosely over a small bowl and held in place with a thick elastic band around the rim. I then strained the liquid little at a time in two batches as the bowl was fairly small. I haven’t used citric acid in mine as I couldn’t get hold of any at the time, but the cordial has kept fine in the fridge for several weeks and I’ve also frozen some in plastic bottles.
Since taking some into work several of my colleagues have enthusiastically had a go themselves, one has even moved on to making elderflower champagne!
Anyway, here is a link to the River Cottage elderflower cordial recipe that got me started, once made enjoy diluted to taste with ice cold sparkling water and a few mint leaves.