If you are really quick and very lucky, you may just get the end of the elderflower season. Ambling home after a dog walk last week I spotted a glut of elderflowers on the edge of a field, which I duly and promptly helped myself to. I made sure I picked evenly and left enough on the plant to help it spread next year.
You really do need to use the flowers as soon as possible, cook them the same day if you can. After 24 hours they will start to smell rather unpleasant. I add a little citric acid which can be found in brewers shops (if they still exist), online or the chemist. It helps to preserve it and gives the cordial sharpness. I would also recommend unwaxed lemons for this recipe as scrubbing the wax off is quite a job and I’m never sure if there is any remaining as you can’t see it.
Elderflower & Lemon Cordial
- 1 kg granulated sugar
- 1.5 litres water
- 180 ml lemon juice
- zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
- 25 elderflower heads stalks removed & check for any bugs, rinse if necessary
- 1 tsp citric acid
- Pour the water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Now add the elderflower heads and the zest of the lemons. Leave for 4-5 hours to steep.
- Strain the liquid through a muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and citric acid if using.
- Have several sterilised bottles ready, heat the liquid until the sugar dissolves. Gently bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Carefully pour the cordial into the bottles and seal immediately
- You can make the cordial without the citric acid as I have in the past, freeze the finished cordial in small plastic bottles (leaving room for expansion!)
- Use the cordial in cakes, drizzled on a Victoria sponge, just as it come out of the oven.
- Add to a homemade custard for a floral twist, see my recipe for Midsummer Strawberry & Elderflower Cake or Strawberry & Elderflower Tart with an Oat & Almond Crust