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elderflower cordial

June 21, 2013

Makes about 1.5 litres
Prep time: five minutes, plus 24 hours steeping time

Elderflower cordial steeping
I am making forays into foraging.  Half of me has always wanted to get into foraging.  The other half of me was too worried about dog pee.  Also, if I’m being honest, that other half of me was rather lazy.  Anyway, this summer I have dusted off my copy of Richard Mabey’s Food For Free and, in the long hours pushing the buggy round the park while the baby refuses to sleep, have been eyeing up the various plants around me in a greedy way.

Until recently I had never ventured further than the odd expedition scrumping for late-summer blackberries or late-spring garlic greens.  These episodes were always fun, with an initial half hour or so of extreme enthusiasm from my eldest daughter, rapidly fading to whingeing, trudging, can-we-go-home-now floppiness.  Ah, children.

I wondered whether the pretty white flowers I was seeing everywhere might be elderflowers.  Well it turns out they were.  Once I had worked that out, I started seeing their frothy heads everywhere – in hedges, on roadsides, alongside train tracks – all over the place, especially in the city.

ElderflowersSo – elderflower cordial.  Finding citric acid is much more difficult than finding elderflowers.  If you can persuade your local chemist that you don’t want it for the purposes of jacking up hard drugs, then good luck to you.  Personally I opted to buy some online from a home brewing company.

Once you’ve scored your citric acid the rest is easy.  And so cheap!  I costed up my batch of cordial and compared it with the quality shop-bought variety.  Belvoir cordial is £2.89 for 500ml – 500ml of mine, 71p.  Ha!  Smug.

Elderflower cordial with sparkling water and a slice of lemon is the most refreshing thing it’s possible to drink on a hot summer’s day.  I hear you can even make it without the citric acid, as long as you don’t mind drinking it quickly, which won’t be at all difficult.

Elderflower cordial in a glass

Elderflower cordial (based on the recipe in Richard Mabey’s Food For Free)

Boiling water, 750ml
White sugar, 1kg
10 elderflower heads
One lemon
Citric acid, 25g

Cut your elderflower heads so there is a little bit of stem left.  Lay them out flat for an hour or so to encourage any beasties to leave home.  Don’t be tempted to wash the flowers though as you’ll lose all that precious flavour.

Pour the sugar into a large bowl and add the boiling water.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the elderflower heads and citric acid.  Pare the rind off the lemon with a vegetable peeler, chop the lemon into chunks and add along with the rind.

Leave for 24 hours to steep, stirring occasionally.  Strain through muslin and pour into clean bottles.  The cordial should keep for about six months.


One Comment
  1. Yum! this looks delicious, and you’re so lucky to have elderflower growing near you that you can forage xx

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