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Elderflower Cordial

Foraging has become a huge trend in the last few years. However, traditional cooks have been heading to the hedgerows for centuries to collect ingredients for the pot.

Elderflower Cordial is a wonderful thing to have around the kitchen; as well as making the quintessential summer drink, it’s a great addition to cocktails, adds a zing to summer jellies and pavlovas, and our favourite partner; gooseberry fool.

Elderflower trees are prolific throughout the UK and you won’t have to travel far to find some boughs laden with the muscat smelling flower, whether in town or country. Try to pick your elderflower heads in the morning when their scent is strongest and choose the largest heads that look the brightest and that have just come into flower.

We use citric acid to aid and extend shelf life, it’s a harmless natural preservative. Feel free to omit it but make sure you store your cordial somewhere very cool to avoid it fermenting.

Prep

Dunk the elderflower heads into a large bowl of cold water to remove unwanted bugs and debris.
Shake off excess water and place the heads on a clean kitchen towel to dry off slightly.
Peel four strips from the lemon with the vegetable peeler.
Thinly slice the peeled lemon into discs.
Weigh out your sugar.
Measure the water.
Sterilise the bottles and funnel by washing in hot water and drying them in an oven set at 100oC for around 30 minutes.

Method

Bring your water to the boil, turn down the heat and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve thoroughly.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat, add the citric acid if using and stir once more.

Cool the syrup completely then pour over elderflower heads and lemon.

Leave over night to infuse in a plastic tub covered with the lid, do not be tempted to stir, just let the heads sit gently in the water.

The next morning, pass the now elderflower infused liquid through a fine sieve.

Allow all the fluid to pass through to capture all the flavour, this may take a few hours to drip out the last drops.

Bottle carefully using funnel and ensure your lids have a tight seal.

Serve or Preserve

Serve by diluting one part cordial to five parts sparkling water over plenty of ice and a slice of lemon. Will keep for six months. Once opened keep refrigerated.

Ingredients

Yields 3 × 250ml bottles

15 large heads of Elderflower
900g of sugar
35g of citric acid
1 lemon
600ml of water

Equipment

Large clean bowl
Kitchen towel
Large stainless steel pan
Vegetable peeler
Measuring jug
Scales
3 litre plastic container with lid
Fine sieve
Small funnel
6 × 250ml glass bottles with lids