Thursday 3 July 2014

Elderflower Cordial

Every year I promise myself that I'll make my own elderflower cordial, and every year I promptly forget until the leaves are turning gold and I'm left kicking myself for being an idiot.

This year I vowed that things would be different.  I would make that bottle of cordial and it would be awesome.  So I went out on an elderflower foraging walk with my friend Claire.  We scoured the banks of the duck pond near school only to discover that the council had ripped all the bushes out along with the brambles, leaving behind a swathe of opportunist jagged, green nettles.  As much as I'm growing to love foraging, I don't think I'll be making nettle soup any time soon!

So we started walking the lanes near school and eventually found a lone elder bush.  Well, more of a tree, really.  The only trouble was that someone had beaten us to it and all the lower branches were stripped bare.  After jumping up and down, snipping wildly at far-away blooms with my longest pair of scissors like a crazed Edward Scissorhands, we admitted defeat and Claire popped home for a step-ladder.  Things went much better after that!

© Julochka via flickr
Sadly we only managed to reach eight heads so I headed to a park and managed to snag another two heads of flowers with my umbrella.  Not quite the romantic basketful that I had in mind!  Enough, however, for a half-batch...

I prettied up my bottle of cordial with this gorgeous label generously created by Holly at Hollytron Blogs.  I didn't have any proper sticky-back label paper to use, so I printed it out on regular paper and used Power Pritt (the grey one) to stick it on.

I'm so pleased that I finally got round to making my own cordial.  It's just as good as Bottlegreen's and so much cheaper, plus there's the satisfaction of making it yourself!  I've been experimenting with it in cake, drinking it over plenty of ice, and I've also had fun trying out cocktails.

This little beauty is vodka, a couple of slices of chopped cucumber lightly muddled with the vodka, ice, a dash of cordial and all topped up with lemonade.  (I have a sweet tooth, but tonic water would probably work well.)  Cucumber and elderflower goes amazingly well together!   No proper measurements, I'm afraid...I put a couple of fingers of vodka in a jam jar--why yes, I have succumbed to this hipster trend--and went from there.  So good.

Elderflower season is over in my part of the country, but if you're further north then you might strike it lucky and find some elderflowers blooming in a park.  If you do, go forth and make your own little bottle of summery sunshine!

Elderflower Cordial

from Countryfile

Notes: I've read that a lot of people have difficulty getting hold of citric acid these days.  (Apparently Boots don't sell it any more as drug addicts use it to cut heroin and cocaine!!)  I ordered a 50g box from my local independent pharmacy, and you can also get it from wine or beer-making shops.  Of course, Amazon sell it too.  (Is there anything they don't carry?)

900g caster sugar
600ml boiling water
30g citric acid
1 lemon, unwaxed
10-15 heads of elderflowers--do not wash. Pick in the morning on a dry, sunny day.  Check for insects and pick them off before using!

Place the sugar into a large bowl.  Pour over the boiling water and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the citric acid and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Grate the lemon zest directly into the syrup, then slice the lemon thinly and add the slices to the syrup, too.  Place the elderflower heads in the syrup, ensuring that all the flowers are immersed.  I left the stems sticking out as some recipes say that they add a bitter flavour.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to steep for 24 hours.  (Some of the flowers may turn brown and look yucky; it's normal.)

Strain through a sterilised muslin into a sterilised jug.  (A still-hot jug straight out of the dishwasher will be fine, and pour a kettle-full of boiling water over the muslin or even a clean tea towel.  You want everything to be squeaky clean so that the cordial will last for as long as possible.)  Fill sterilised bottle(s) with the cordial and add a label.  Store in the fridge.



  1. There really is something special about making things from scratch, they always taste that much sweeter for it! <3 x

  2. Brilliant! I wouldn't have known an elderflower if it'd hit me in the mush but I do love the cordial, mmmm.
    Good work lady, right down to the delicious sounding cocktail in jam jar!
    M x

  3. Lily Doughball4 July 2014 at 07:59

    Love it! I made some cordial this year but did it the day before Glasto, so came back to a horrible sticky kitchen. Bad times!

    Lovely cocktail idea, too :)

  4. To be fair, once you'd spat out a few flowers you'd totally recognise it by the smell! I dragged Claire with me as she knew what they looked like (and where they Should be), so you should definitely find someone who knows where elderflowers be and go for it next year!!

  5. Ouch! I can imagine that it would be a bit stinky and sticky after a few days left alone. I guess it fermented...

    The nice thing about the cocktail is that you wake up with a clear head. I think all the vitamin C from the elderflowers does something magical.

  6. Thanks, Jennie! I don't think I'll be buying another bottle of cordial again as it's just so easy!

  7. I only tried Elderflower last week for the first time when Mum made some Elderflower jelly and it was so yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'll definitely be bookmarking this to attempt one day x

  8. oooh love the cocktail! I've been keeping a glass bottle of water with fresh sliced cucumbers in my fridge all week, and today before I read this post I added a splash of elderflower to my glass - divine! Tonight will no doubt be a Friday night gin, elderflower and tonic kind of night...


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