This Elderflower cordial recipe was first published in 2010 and I’ve tried to find good recipes that cut the sugar content ever since as the original was quite heavy on it. Thanks to the River Cottage Preserves book I’ve finally found one that halves the sugar and have used it as detailed below.
In a good year Elderflowers start to appear in hedgerows across the country during May, however in 2010 it was early June and in 2015 ours were only just coming into bud towards the very end of 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 and don’t pick all the flowers. Take a few from different branches, leaving the rest to develop into berries that can be made into a winter tonic in the form of Elderberry syrup.
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 stored my cordial in sterilised screw topped wine bottles and it’s an ingredient that’s handy to have in the cupboard as summer recipes often call for it.
This recipe makes around 2 litres and it will be 24 hours before it’s ready.
25 heads of Elderflower
1 kg granulated sugar
1.5 litres boiling water
3 lemons & 1 orange, unwaxed. Finely grate the zest, save the juice (around 150 ml) then thinly slice
1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid (available from Chemists, optional but I’ve always added it)
Shake the Elderflowers in case there are any insects lurking and put the blossoms in a large bowl. Add the lemon and orange zest and the sliced lemons. Pour over the boiling water, cover and leave for 24 hours to infuse.
The next day, strain the infuse liquid into a saucepan through a coffee filter or clean muslin cloth then add the citric acid, lemon and orange juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved, then pour the syrup into sterilised bottles and seal.
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, or even better for the adults, with topic water and added to our favourite gin!
Have you used elder flowers in recipes before? Do you love or loathe them?