I’ve been meaning to make elderflower cordial for years as, having three children, we tend to get through a fair amount of squash. I love providing food for the family when I know exactly what the ingredients are (rather than scientific, chemical names) and I’m delighted that two out of the three love this and will choose it over a bottle of orange squash.
In a good year elderflowers start to appear in May, however this year it was early June. Wait until the blooms are full, creamy coloured and full of scent (they’re especially heady when picked in the evening). As with any type of foraging, avoid collecting the flowers if they’re growing close to a busy road as they’re more likely to pick up pollution.
If you spot the blossom but don’t have time to make the cordial (or jam, or whatever you’d like them for), you can freeze the heads.
I made my cordial in sterilised screw topped wine bottles.
This recipe makes around 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) and it will be 24 hrs before it’s ready.
20 heads of elderflower
1.8kg (4lb) granulated sugar (scary amount, I now know why nutritionists tell us not to give our children too much squash as it’s so bad for their teeth!)
1.2 ltrs (2 pints) water
2 lemons, unwaxed - zest in strips then sliced
75g (2 1/2 oz) citric acid (easily available from Chemists)
Shake the elderflowers in case there are any insects lurking and put them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and the sliced lemons.
Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the water and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved, then pour the syrup over the elderflowers and add the citric acid.
Cover the bowl with a cloth or clingfilm and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
Strain the cordial (if you don’t have muslin you can use a coffee filter or a fine sieve) and pour into thoroughly washed glass or plastic bottles.
We leave a bottle in the fridge and just add tap water but for a change it’s lovely when it’s diluted with sparkling water.