Hedgerows are full of flowering elder trees at the moment, the creamy flowerheads look so pretty.
For longer than I really like to admit I have intended to pick the flowers and make elderflower cordial.
The flowering season is short and they have to be picked at just the right time … and my timing was never qute right. But this year I managed to do it and it’s really very simple.
The best time to pick the flowers is:
- not too early in the morning, to allow time for the dew to disappear,
- on a dry day,
- when the tiny flowers have just opened and are nice and fresh,
- I picked 25 flowerheads.
- Shook out any insects.
- Put the flowers in a bowl with the grated zest of a lemon and it’s juice.
- Poured 1.5 litres of boiled water over them.
- Covered with a cloth and left them overnight.
- The next morning I strained the liquid through a plastic seive.
- Transferred them to a saucepan, added 500g of sugar and heated it all gently for 5 mins to make sure the sugar was dissolved.
- Taste it at this stage and add more sugar according to how sweet you like it. Some recipes suggest much more sugar, but the great thing about making your own cordial is that you can adjust it to your own taste.
- I let it cool then poured it into a sterilised glass bottle through a funnel.
- Apparently this will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, but I’ve put most of the cordial into well-washed plastic milk containers, so there’s no need to buy anything extra.
It felt like freezing a bit of summer to use later in the year.
It’s very refreshing diluted with water, and I’m going to try a big splash of it in a glass of Prosecco this weekend.
Have you ever made elderflower cordial or champagne?
This was inspired by The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, I hope you’ll be encouraged to have a go … I’d love to hear how you got on.
all images: Jill Anderson