Friday, 25 June 2010
Elderflower Cordial from the garden
Elderflower is my favourite drink in summer. Nothing is more refreshing when you are hot and thirsty. Its quite expensive to buy but simple to make at home. The elder is in flower right now and its easy to find as it grows like a weed in hedges and even on waste ground as well as down country lanes and in the garden. I didn't plant my elder - it just appeared.
The elderflower has a rather musky scent and the flowers themselves are tiny and of a perfect shape. They looked like frothy lace in my bowl. Don't forget to shake them gently after picking to dislodge any creatures hiding there. I had to rescue two little green beasties and a small spider before pouring on the sugar. If you tap the side of the bowl with a spoon anything alive seems to rush up to the rim, trying to escape.
To make about 2 pints of cordial, put about 15 large elderflower heads, 2 pounds/900gm sugar, one lemon cut into slices and an ounce and a half/40 gm citric acid (I got mine at the chemist) into a large heatproof bowl and stir in 18 fluid ounces/500ml boiling water to dissolve the sugar. Cover and leave in a cool place for 4 days, stirring occasionally. Taste to see if the cordial is strong enough, remembering that it will be diluted for drinking.
Then strain through a plastic or nylon sieve lined with a piece of muslin and pour into sterilized bottles. Seal and keep in a cool, dark, dry place. Its ready to drink right away and will keep for ages. Drink chilled, diluted with water or dry white wine or add to fruit puddings. I've used it instead of fruit juice in my favourite fruitcake recipe too.
This is another recipe from the book mentioned in my Freezer Jam post yesterday. Its a beautiful book full of gorgeous photos and simple recipes that have never failed me. If you like preserving - either from your own produce or from bought fruit and veg, its worth seeking out a copy. I see a couple on ebay right now.