The elderflowers are back, and after last year’s success with elderflower champagne, I’m determined to make the most of this season’s bounty. The champagne is already on the go, but for more immediate satisfaction, I decided to try my hand at elderflower cordial.
I started with Sophie Grigson’s recipe on uktv.co.uk, a simple process of soaking elderflower in a mix of water, sugar, lemon, and citric acid, and then straining into sterilised bottles.
The citric acid was a mystery ingredient for me; I had to order mine online (Amazon to the rescue). I’ve heard you can buy it at chemists / pharmacists, but when I tried this, I was told that pharmacies no longer carry citric acid because it can be used to make naughty things!
I followed one of the suggestions posted on Sophie’s recipe to cut down the sugar and lemon so that the elderflower really stands out. The result was a full-flavoured cordial, quite tart, but with a really good hit of elderflower.
A few people asked where my cordial gets its colour from: I attribute its golden tint to the unrefined golden caster sugar I used. You could also use white granulated sugar, but I really like the bright bold colour of mine if I do say so myself!
I served the cordial with fizzy water at a bbq last night – a tasty treat for the kids and designated drivers, all of whom asked for seconds. Success!
- 20 heads of elderflower
- 550g caster sugar
- 1.2 litres water
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- 75 g citric acid
- Shake the elderflowers to expel any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.
- Put the sugar into a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- While the sugar syrup is heating, pare the zest of the lemons off in wide strips and toss into the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons, discard the ends, and add the slices to the bowl. Pour over the boiling syrup, and then stir in the citric acid. Cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
- The next day, have a taste of the cordial to check if it’s sweet enough. If you find it too tart, add a bit more sugar and give it a stir, plus a few hours to really dissolve. Then taste again, repeating the process until it’s at the desired sweetness (but keep in mind, you can always add sugar to the drinks you make later, but you can’t take sugar away!).
- Line a sieve with muslin and rinse it in boiling water. Strain the cordial through the sieve and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles. Screw on the lids and pop into the cupboard ready to use.