At this time of year, were the shops freely available for browsing, I would be going mad for anything elderflower-flavoured. I’ve been wanting to make elderflower cordial myself for years but never made time in the right few weeks to go in search of a tree to forage. Would you believe it, I was directed by friends to a few different possibilities, and ended up finding one right at the top of our road. So, here is one of my most favourite flavours in the world, bottled up by me! I also had extra to try making elderflower ice cubes – they look pretty but you have to drink it quick because a mouthful of fluffy flowers isn’t the best texture…
Incidentally, as a hayfever sufferer I’m wondering if ingesting very local pollen has the same beneficial effect on allergies as eating local honey? Guess I’m going to have to drink it all and call it an ‘experiment’. I’m really pleased with the flavour of this – I used the BBC Countryfile recipe and the quantities seem just right. I’ve got 3 bottles full from this recipe, and then obviously the syrup is a dilute-to-taste drink (water, tonic, or as a mixer) so you’ll have gallons of the stuff.
1.5 kg caster sugar
1.5 litres freshly boiled water
3 unwaxed lemons
20 elderflower heads
80g citric acid (I had some spare in a cheese-making kit, but you can order online here)
STEP 1: Gently shake the elderflower heads to remove any insects (don’t rinse them, as it strips the pollen and flavour). Remove any leaves or stalks.
STEP 2 : Place the sugar into a saucepan, pour in the boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves.
STEP 3 : Pare the lemon rind, then slice the fruit into rounds and add all of this to the pot. Add the citric acid and the elderflowers and stir.
STEP 4 : Steep for 24–48 hours, then – with a clean muslin cloth over a bowl – ladle the cordial through to strain the liquid, and decant into sterilised bottles. Store in a cool, dry place for up to a month or freeze.