Anyone for elderflower?

The elderflower coming into blossom is one of the events that punctuates my year. I love the scent and I love the taste. Every year we make elderflower cordial. Enough to last the summer.

It has become a family tradition that AJ and dh collect the elderflowers. In all fairness, he is taller than the rest of us, which is an advantage. Usually, we can pick some from the garden and then they have to wander a bit further. This year, we managed to pick all of it from the garden, with more to come into blossom.

Here’s the recipe we use:

1 to 1.5k sugar ( I use caster, because it dissolves easily)
2.25 litres of boiling water
50 to 100g citric acid
2 lemons
20 to 40 heads of elderflowers, pick when they are dry and have yellow pollen on them (I like to collect them in a holey container and leave them while I do the mixture. Gives the bugs time to vacate the flowers.)

  1. Put the sugar and citric acid in a big bowl. I use a jam preserve pan.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the sugar and citric acid, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Squeeze and slice the lemons and add them to the bowl.
  4. Let it cool completely.
  5. Add the elderflowers, stems and all. Cover the bowl and leave it for 24 hours.starting elderflower champagne
  6. Strain mixture through a jelly bag. You could use one of the feet from a pair of old clean tights.

Leave it to drain while you sort out theย  bottles. Sterilize the bottles in a low oven. I tend to do this is the bottom oven of my Aga. However you do it, make sure they are clean and sterilized. Carefully pour mixture into bottles. Screw on the lid and label.

We love the cordial as part of a drink. We add 1 part cordial to 4 parts of water, lemonade or sparkling mineral. On top of ice cream is a bit of a favourite. If nothing else, the fragrance of elderflower has spread around the house. Hmmmm.

Right I’m off to wash off all the stickiness, pour myself some cordial and catch up with an old copy of Country Living. Looking forward to reading about bread. And a poster.

I’d love to know what you do with your elderflower cordial. I’m looking for a tried and tested elderflower champagne recipe, if you have one.

16 thoughts on “Anyone for elderflower?

  • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 9:47 am

    My mouth was watering reading your post, I love elderflower cordial. You are lucky to have it growing in your garden.

    • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 10:18 am

      This is growing in a wild area, which we try and leave undisturbed for the wildlife. It is to the side of one of our compost heaps. Its nice to know that the plant has not been sprayed.

  • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 11:03 am

    That jelly bag looks suspiciously homemade. Do you know of any patterns for making my own jelly bag from cheesecloth? I’d love to have a go at this. Obviously provided I can find some elderflower.

    Also, if you pick the flowers, do you find that means you have a smaller harvest of elderberries in the autumn?

    • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      No, I didn’t make it. I did use tights for years, but I find this bag a lot less stretchy. I don’t have a pattern, but I should imagine it is not hard to make. Basically it is a ring at the top, with a fabric cone underneath. Straps attached to the top, so that it can be hung up. The fabric is a strong cotton, with no stretch and the seams are double stitched. I can chuck it in the washing machine if I need to.

      I am pretty sure that there will be less elderberries, if you pick the elderflowers. I don’t harvest the elderberries as it coincides with a lot of other fruits being ready, which I prefer. I leave the elderberries for the birds.

  • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Oh, yes please!!! I so miss making elder flower cordials. Not to mention the fun of picking the flowers. We used to have the cordial with fizzy water and ice. Plain simple and delicious. I haven’t seen them in this part of the world but a friend just offered me a (bottled) elderberry drink the other day. Good, but not the same. Enjoy!

    • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Our hedgerows are full of elderflower at the moment. Some trees look like a snow blizzard have hit them. Elder grows so easily here, I assumed elder was fairly widespread. Once tasted, never forgotten.

  • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I was just recently blessed with 2nd hand copies of two of my brother-in-law’s, mothers cookbooks. Her name was Blanche Pownall Garrett and she wrote about cooking with wild foods in Canada. The books are “A Taste of the Wild” and “Canadian Country Preserves & Wine.” I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but she has some lovely cordial, champagne and vinegar recipes for summer drinks and I’m almost certain that there is one for Elderflower champagne. If you have the opportunity to see these books I’m sure you will enjoy them. Reading your post reminded me so much of perusing these two books.

    • Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      I love looking through older recipe books. I’ll keep my eyes open for these ones. I love the way food goes in and out of fashion. Thanks for the titles.

  • Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 12:31 am

    A friend from England brought me a bottle of elderflower cordial. We loved it. If we had elderflowers here, I’d definitely make it. But I don’t think they grow in these parts.

    • Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 10:09 am

      It is such a lovely taste. Very flowery and summery. To buy it over here is an expensive option compared to other cordials. A friend and I costed it out last night, and we reckon it that for the cost of one shop bought bottle, I made about 10 bottles. Somehow it tastes even better today!

  • Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I love to make this too but our elderflowers aren’t out yet – I can’t wait! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      I think I’m going to make a second batch of cordial, along with champagne. Everyone is enjoying it.

  • Thursday 17 June, 2010 at 4:37 am

    That sounds so tempting… I LOVE the Elder flowers and berries, mostly I love to make elderberry syrup so I usually use sparingly of the flowers, simple infusion in tea usually, yet this sound so lovely I just might have to try!!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thursday 17 June, 2010 at 9:29 am

      Oh, I have got to try it as tea. We have such a lot of elderflower around here, which I know gets no spraying, that my harvest really doesn’t make much impact. I am curious about the elderberry syrup.

    • Saturday 19 June, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Oh, thank you for the link. I like Andy’s description of when to tighten the cap. Up to now, I have avoided making anything that hints at the possibility of exploding. This year, I’m going to give it a go. I have the lemons, sugar and elderflower trees. Only problem now, is the fizzy lemonade bottles.

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