Thursday, 9 August 2012

Elderflower cordial

What says ‘summer’ more than elderflowers? They grace the British countryside, up and down hedgerows and along every road the length and bredth of the country. Elderflowers are almost a weed, given how prolific they are and yet the smell and the light little blooms make me forgive the bushes for everything! And better yet they are great in cooking!

I remember as a child my Mum making all sorts of things with elderflowers, including bucket loads of elderflower wine (does that make my Mum sound boozy – she’s not I promise!). Well I’m not a big drinker but Mr PTC and I do drink quite a lot of squash and cordial in the summer. So what better than making my own elderflower cordial?

Traditionally this is a May/early June activity as this is when elderflowers are at their best. However, living in Scotland in one of the worst summers I can remember meant that I didn’t see a single elderflower until the end of June! I then meant to make this all the way through July, but just didn’t have time. Elder has really stopped flowering now, but on Monday evening I managed to scrape together enough flowers for one batch of this, and it tastes wonderful!

If you decide to make this make sure you collect flowers that are just opening and are at their peak. You don’t want flowers that are ‘falling over’ as my mother told me. The flowers are best collected on a dry day, but not too warm so that they don’t wilt too quickly. However, if you have had a terrible summer like we have then quite frankly, just collect them whenever you can! Ideally you don’t want to wash them as you will loose all the flowers and some of the flavour. If you do want to wash them just gently swish them in a basin of cold water. Make sure you collect them from bushes that are not by a road and ideally not by a field where pesticides are sprayed.

This is my neighbour’s recipe. There are many variations upon this theme available if you have a quick google on the internet, but having made this one I can thoroughly recommend it!

I have to admit that I am being slightly selfish by writing this recipe up on the blog – I don’t want to loose it for next year! It is currently on a scrap of paper that I know will get tossed at some point. Hopefully having a version in electronic form will mean I can find it easier next year.

Sarah’s Elderflower cordial

Preparation: 10 minutes + 24 hours resting

25 heads elderflower
1 ½ litres water, recently boiled
1.2kg sugar
3 oranges
2 lemonds
50g citric acid

Remove the zest from the fruit and set aside.

Roughly slice the fruit (leaving the zested peel on) and place in a large pan or bowl. Cover with the sugar and then the hot water. Add the citric acid and citric acid and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Finally add the elderflowers and give a gentle stir.

Rest for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Mixing the fruit and flowers.

Drain the liquid from the fruit. I used a piece of muslin cloth in a sieve over a large bowl. I then pressed all the fruit to get as much of the liquid out as possible (though this makes it more cloudy, but more fruity).

Draining the cordial from the fruit. I squeezed each piece of fruit to increase the liquid.

Bottle the drained liquid (I got about 2 litres out of it).

To serve, dilute to taste. I like the cordial quite strong so I dilute 1 part cordial to 5 parts water. Mr PTC likes his weaker and uses 10 parts water.

The cordial freezes well and can provide you with a nice summer drink at Christmas! If you plan to do this I advise using small bottles so you don’t have to drink too much at once. I expect the shelf life to be about a week, though I haven’t tested this yet.

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