Elderflowers have an unmistakable, delicately floral scent. This cordial is the essence of early summer in a bottle, and very simple to make. For best results, collect your elderflowers in the morning on a warm, dry day and select blooms that are newly opened. Shake the elderflower heads gently to remove any bugs and, to avoid losing the delicate pollen, keep them ‘heads up’ while you transport them home.
Mix the cordial with chilled sparkling water for a refreshing long drink, or add a dash to gin and tonic or prosecco. You can also use it to flavour ice lollies or sorbets.
- 1 large lemon or orange (or use half of each)
- 500g granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons good-quality honey
- 20 fresh elderflower heads
- Put a litre of water water into a pan (one that has a lid). Pare strips of zest from the lemon and/or orange using a potato peeler. Add them to the water with the sugar, honey and the juice from the lemon and/or orange. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring gently until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer gently for a couple of minutes.
- Meanwhile, snip away as much of the stem parts of the flower heads as you can. Discard the stems.Remove the pan from the heat and tip in the elderflowers. Make sure that they are fully submerged in the hot syrup. Put the lid on the pan, and set aside to steep for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.
- After the flowers have steeped, strain the syrup into a bowl through a fine-meshed sieve and then again through a muslin cloth. Decant the strained syrup into sterilised bottles. If stored in the fridge, the cordial should keep for up to a month – though it’s unlikely to last that long!
Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK