Friday, 8 June 2012

Cordially Inviting

June is a funny old month. In our minds we imagine it to be a sunny summer month without the oppressive heatwaves of our imaginary August, but with a softly deepening warmth. Yet in reality it's often one of the wettest times of the summer. The past couple of days we've had such intense wind and rain that it seemed that we'd skipped summer altogether in a Python-esque leap, and gone straight to October's stormy lashings. Thankfully I had a gentle floral reminder of the warm sun that has occasionally peeped out over the past few weeks ~ my homemade Elderflower Cordial.

This sweetly fragrant drink is not just delicious, it's also believed to help relieve the symptoms of hayfever and sinusitis. Plus, the Elder tree is the bestest place of all to spot faeries, especially on Midsummer's Eve ;)

Here's the recipe:

10 heads of elderflower
900g sugar
600ml water
1 lemon

  • Shake the elderflowers and check there are no lingering insects, 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 off the lemons 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, then cover with a cloth and then leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or a new j-cloth rinsed out in boiling water), and pour into thoroughly cleaned glass or plastic bottles.
  • Serve with ice and a slice, and maybe a couple of pieces of lemon peel in the glass
Makes approx 1 litre.

I found it a little sweeter than I would like (which is really saying something coming from someone with a mouthful of sweet teeth!) so next time I think I would lower the sugar a little and maybe use an extra lemon.

Elderflowers are only around for a little while so if you want to try this, go do it now! Try not to pick too many blossoms from one tree as you want to leave some to ripen into berries for the birds, and for other delicious recipes we can make in the Autumn :)

***Please note, this will only keep for a few weeks in the fridge before mould begins to grow. This is caused by spores which occur naturally on the blooms and apparently even boiling sugar syrup isn't enough to kill it off, but a crushed campden tablet added before bottling should help preserve it a lot longer. If you prefer not to use these, then try freezing the cordial in small plastic bottles so you have a ready stash throughout the year***


  1. Oooh that sounds refreshing, I could use that sinusitis help!

    1. Well I can't guarantee any medical results (disclaimer!!!) but the refreshing bit is definitely true!

  2. I'm going to do this this week, so glad you added the preservation tip. But what is a campden tablet?

  3. Campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) are a sulfur-based product that is used primarily in wine, cider and beer making to kill certain bacteria and to inhibit the growth of most wild yeast.(from Wikipedia)
    I'm not sure where you would buy these in the US but I imagine anywhere that sells home brewing stuff would have them. They're pretty cheap here. Hope that helps!