Isn’t this weather divine? I am hoping that it doesn’t take a huge nose dive in August as we have two mini camping breaks coming up! Now, you just about have time left to make some elderflower cordial before the flowers turn.
I had planned on making cordial a good month or so ago but I was dashed in two areas:
A) I could not find elderflowers local to me. I know, ridiculous right? They are everywhere usually. Irritatingly I saw them in hedgerows on busy roads where we could not stop and also teasing me round industrial estates (not that I frequen industrial estates you understand. There is even a huge tree at the end of our garden in the wooded area that is public; however to get to it you would need to cut down nettles that are at least four foot high and then you would need a ladder to climb up to reach any at all.
B) I could not find a chemist that sold citric acid for ages, everywhere had run out “it’s that time of year” I was blithely told. Eventually in Superdrug of all places I finally found some. Relief, RELIEF.
“I am only allowed to sell you two boxes” said the woman behind the counter, without a smile. Okaaay then, fine! I had no idea how much I needed because I um forgot to check the recipe before heading out on my earnest quest. I did discover later that Wilkinsons was selling it not behind a counter but on the shelf. They had none left though. But interesting isn’t it that they are allowed to stock it like that when the everywhere else tells you the only place allowed to sell it is the chemist. Clearly not then!
So, happy I had found the citric acid after a months (albeit) somewhat lazy search, my mum and I went on a mission in the fields out back of the house. There are alot of fields out there as we are on the edge of the city. Elderflowers clearly do not like growing in these hedgerows. We eventually found just three, three, in a walk through of five fields. One of which was completely out of reach due to more nettles protecting it. As it was we managed to get a good bag full of flowerheads but not without stinging injuries, my mum more so than me because, you know she is older, wiser and very determined that we would not fail after all the effort put in.
Satisfied with our haul we came home. Elderflowers stink like cats pee. It is godawful. I promptly shoved them in the shed overnight.
There are many recipes that all seem to differ slightly on how to make cordial. I opted on the following one taken from a lovely book called The Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar.
You will need:
20 / 30 elderflowerheads – make sure you pick these on a sunny day as it’s the pollen in the flowers that gives the flavour. Don’t bother in rain as it just won’t really work!
1.7 litres of boiling water
1.5kg granulated sugar
50g citric acid (that’s one little box, the citric acid helps to thicken up the cordial)
2 unwaxed lemons sliced
3 bottles that have been sterilised – there are so many varying ways of sterilising bottles, I chose to run mine through the dishwasher and from what I have read online from previous peoples experiences this seems to work just fine.
Firstly add the sugar to the boiling water and wait for it to dissolve. Then, set aside and wait for it to cool down. Once cool chuck everything else in. Don’t rinse off the elderflowers beforehand, remember the pollen is the key! Give it a stir, then pop a lid on it and forget about it for at least 24 hours. I waited 36 hours in the end.
Next get a jug and put a cloth of some description over it to act as a strainer. I used one of Jesse’s many muslins. Thanks to his reflux, three years on I still need them close to hand! A clean one. Obvioulsy.
Then simply pour the mixture through the muslin and bottle up. The cordial is satisfyingly thick and tastes delicious. Even more satisfying to sit outside in this sunny weather and sup away….