For me, elderflower cordial is the taste of childhood
summers – holidays that seemed like they would never end, the feel of
sun-warmed grass on your bare feet, barbecues and picnics and going to the
beach after school. I couldn’t possibly imagine a summer without it. These
days, you can buy plenty of good versions in the supermarket, but nothing quite
beats the homemade stuff – and if you haven’t made it before, you’ll be pleased
to know it’s really easy. The only tricky part can be tracking down the citric
acid, but if you have a good independent pharmacist in your town, that’s a
pretty good bet.
A quick note on picking the flowers – make sure you don’t
pick any below waist-height, to avoid any doggy business, and go for flowers
that are large and without too many brown patches. And finally, please make sure that what you’re
picking is in fact elderflower – cow parsley looks quite like it, but grows on
a stalk rather than a bush or a tree, and really doesn’t taste as good. Keep it
3.5lb white sugar (approximately 1,575g)
3 pints of boiling water (approximately 1.7l)
You'll also need a muslin bag or large coffee filters,
to strain the end product – a sieve won’t be fine enough to keep all the bits
Apologies for the
fact that the quantities are in old money – it’s a very old family recipe!
Boil up the water, and in a large saucepan mix with the
sugar until dissolved. Add the citric acid, sliced lemons and elderflower
heads, stirring to make sure they’re submerged, and then pop a lid on the
saucepan and leave for 24 hours, stirring every now and then.
When 24 hours have passed, strain the liquid using a
muslin bag or coffee filters, and store in plastic bottles. Dilute with water
to serve, in the same sort of proportions as you would for squash. Serve with
plenty of ice and lemon. Cheers!