There is masses of elderflower around at the moment and I mean to make as much cordial as I can before it fades and leaves us for another year. I have mentioned it before but I just love these seasonal treats – so much more special because of their fleeting presence. Like the wild garlic which is now long gone from the river bank where it flourished only a month ago and all the other delights about to spring from the garden. You might be able to buy raspberries year around in the supermarkets but do they ever taste better than when picked and eaten straight from the cane, warm from the sun? Strawberries which can so often be a let down once liberated from their plastic shop cartons yet which carry that unmistakeable scent and flavour of summer when you find one perfect crimson specimen hiding under the leaves of a plant at your feet.
This cordial is floral, fragrant and delicious. It has the most extraordinarily true flavour of elderflower and is unbelievably thirst quenching and refreshing. As you will from the recipe it does contain a fair amount of sugar which I admit makes me wince a bit when I put it into the pan – what with trying to cut down on sugar and all that. The thing is I like to offer my children squash and don’t think they should be limited to water or milk – after all I have wide range of drinks I can choose from! What I don’t care for so much is the commercial drinks full of colouring, additives and other unpronounceable ingredients. I may be conning myself but this just seems a little more natural. You can reduce the sugar a little, play around and see what level of sweetness you prefer and don’t forget it is going to be highly diluted.
You need roughly 20 heads of elderflower for this but don’t panic if you can only find, or reach 15 or so, it will still taste delicious. Get citric acid from health food shops or the chemist.
20 elderflower heads, shake them gently to release any bugs
750g golden caster sugar
50g citric acid
1 lemon, halved
Put the sugar and water into a pan and bring to the boil. Put the elderflower heads into a large bowl and carefully add the sugar syrup. Add the citric acid and squeeze in the juice from the lemons and add the halves to the bowl. Give it all a good mix then cover with a tea towel and leave overnight. The next day pour it through a sieve into another bowl or wide jug squeezing out the elderflower to get every drop. Decant into a bottle and keep in the fridge. Dilute as you would normal cordial with cold fizzy or flat water. You could of course add it to a cocktail too….