A Seasonal Recipe: Elderflower Cordial
We’re big advocates of getting outside and making the most of the glorious green spots that Cumbria and beyond has to offer. We’re also big advocates of grabbing something for nothing! Who’s not?! We wrote all about Wild Garlic back at the start of Spring. We rightfully ranted and raved about how great and good it was and celebrated how much better all things tasted when they were in season. We chatted about how nice it was to notice the changes outside and all around us after the wobbliest of years last year. Wild Garlic was readily available all over the place and it was one of the first things you could harvest when the weather was still chilly enough to need a few layers…and maybe still a bobble hat and gloves!
Here we are just a few months down the line and whilst the Wild Garlic was a sure-fire sign that we were most definitely more Spring than we were Winter, the lovely sight of delicate Elderflowers cropping up in hedgerows, at the bottom of gardens and wherever they can squeeze; is a welcome sign that Summer time is here over in the UK. At last!
You can’t miss an Elderflower tree. They’re one of the last fruiting trees to produce blossom in this part of the world and what a delicate, beautiful display it is! Elderflower usually flowers in early May, but since we had an unusually chilly Spring this year, we’ve only just begun spotting them out and about on our walks. By mid-June you can expect the prettiest display of delicate Elderflowers. The tiny white clusters of umbrella-like petals and sweet perfume-y scent is unmistakable! The crowns of Elderflowers have been gathered for years and years and often find their way into champagnes, cordials, ice creams and sorbets.
Before we share ‘The Easiest Elderflower Cordial Recipe Ever’ and why it’s not just for sloshing in a glass with water; here are some things you might not know about this pretty summer flower…
SOME VERY ELDERBERRY-Y FACTS
1. The Elder tree has lot of associations with folklore. In fact legend has it that if you fall asleep under a tree in full bloom; you would be invited into the world of the fairies and be protected from evil spirits.
2. The Elder tree is also known as Black Elder, Pipe Tree, Bore Tree, Eller and Holler.
3. If not picked, the beautiful Elderflowers become Elderberries in early Autumn. Elderberries are still widely used in folk medicine across many parts of the world. Here in the UK they’re often cooked and strained to make a syrup. Whilst the raw berries, bark, seeds and leaves of the plant are toxic; the berry itself is high in antioxidants and is said to help prevent the common cold and flu. It can also be cooked, strained and used in juices, jams and chutneys.
But onto the good stuff!
For a really rather delicious easy Elderflower cordial…
YOU WILL NEED
Roughly twenty-five elderflower heads.
Finely grated zest of three unwaxed lemons and one orange, plus their juice.
1kg of sugar.
1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid. This is optional but will mean your bottled cordial will not ferment and last much longer. But to be honest, it rarely last more than a couple of weeks over here so feel free to leave it out.
TO GET STARTED
Elderflowers are best gathered just as the tree starts to bloom and first thing in the morning on dry day. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the blooms, ensuring you remove any insects first.
Bring 1.5litres of water to the boil and gently pour over the elderflower and grated zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.
Strain the liquid carefully into a jelly bag or piece of muslin to ensure all bits are removed and pour into a large pan.
Add all sugar, citric acid (if using) and the lemon and orange juice too.
Heat slowly and gently making sure that all sugar is dissolved.
Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles and seal.
Your delicious easy-peasy cordial will last for up to six weeks in the fridge and a bit longer if you used the citric acid.
Enjoy this delicious flowery cordial drizzled over a fresh fruit salad of seasonal strawberries, raspberries, nectarines and cherries. It’s also lovely used to soak sponge fingers in a trifle made with summer gooseberries. Why not add to an ice-cold gin and tonic with some ribbons of cucumber or use as the base for a salad dressing made with white wine vinegar, rapeseed oil and the juice and zest of a lemon?! Extra delicious drizzled over crunchy summer salad of crunchy iceberg lettuce, radish and asparagus. OR make an iced tea with earl grey and add some Elderflower cordial and freshly squeezed lemon and lots of ice. Keep a jug in the fridge ready to go on a sunny day!
Let us know if you make it! Better still share with us how you eat yours! Remember you can find us over on Instagram and Facebook.