This is simply the best elderflower cordial recipe ever! There's nothing more evocative of dreamy sunny summer days than elderflower cordial. Lounging around in the garden, eating al fresco and having to cool off under the hose pipe….We really have just had a whole week of sun, a glimpse into the world of the Meditterranean, where life is slow, lunchbreaks last 2 hours, dinners take all night and wine flows freely.
Alas, the spell was suddenly broken this weekend with howling wind and horizontal rain. It feels more like a sloe gin and crackling fire day today. Its June 8th and I'm sitting with my fleecy blanket wrapped around my legs. Back to the Med. Last week really was divine. Evenings spent on the beach with the children after school when the sun never went down.
That sunshine did wonders for all our garden and wild plants. Elderflowers totally bloomed last week and came into their prime. I picked hundreds of elderflowers for my cordial and champagne and to supply to the Gurnards Head pub for their pudding of elderflower fritters and lemon mousse.
Elderflowers need to be picked in the first half of the day and in sunshine. You can immediately tell which flowers you need to pick – the big fully opened cream flowers with the sweetest scent are the best and these are the ones you'll get the best result from. Don't pick the old flowers – you want to have them young and fresh.By the end of the day the flowers either lose their scent or smell a bit cat's pissy….best to leave it till the next day for picking. When I pick lots of elderflowers and have to carry them around in the van all day I keep them in cool boxes with wet tea towels covering them. By keeping them In the dark and moist I believe you can preserve the scent until you get home to start to turn them into the delectable drink of the goddesses – sparkling elderflower or elderflower champagne.
Here's my recipe:
50 elderflower heads
2.5 kg organic un-refined caster sugar
2 litres filtered water
3 organic unwaxed lemons
1 organic orange
110g citric acid
Shake the elderflowers of insects and place in a large bucket.
Put the sugar into a pan with the filtered water and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
While the sugar syrup is heating pare the zest of lemons and oranges off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers.
Slice the oranges and lemons, discard the ends and add to the bowl.
Pour over the boiling syrup and then stir in the citric acid.
Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24hours.
The next day strain through muslin or a jelly bag into sterlised glass or clean plastic bottles.
Dilute with still or sparkling water to taste.
Or turn it into a delicate sorbet by diluting with water and putting into an ice cream maker or putting in the freezer and taking out to whisk periodically to break up the ice crystals.
I store the cordial in sterlised glass bottles which I subsequently pasteurise after filling up the bottles, in a large stock pan with water up to the necks of the bottles. I keep the water at 80oC for 20 mins to complete the pasteurisation process. You must place something in the bottom of the pan such as cardboard or a tray to stop the glass bottles touching the bottom of the pan.
I also store some in plastic bottles in the freezer – this seems to really keep the cordial so fresh and then, depending how much freezer space you have, you can have cordial all year round.