I’ve been desperate to pick elderflowers and it feels like it’s taken ages for them to bloom this year. On Wednesday they were finally ready and we picked ours from a bush growing near where we live. Most of them were high up which mean’t our faces and hair got covered in pollen, making it very sneezy work.
Wet elderflowers vs dry elderflowers
Last year we picked wet blooms, which we later found out is a no-no because it reduces the flavour. Despite this, our cordial was still tasty. This year we picked dry blooms that had been warmed by the sun and they smelt amazing. So much more fragrant than the wet blooms. I left them on the windowsill for a while (for the bugs to drop out) and the whole flat smelt of elderflower. I will always pick dry blooms from now on.
Homemade elderflower cordial recipe
My previous batch of cordial was delicious so I’ve used the River Cottage recipe again. Here’s how to make it.
- 25 flower heads
- 3 lemons (zest and juice)
- 1 orange (zest and juice)
- 1kg sugar
- 1.5 litres of water
1. Pick elderflowers
Choose heads with a creamy white appearance, healthy flowers and lots of fragrance.
2. Soak in a bowl overnight
Arrange the elderflower in a bowl (I like to leave the stalks sticking up out of the water), pour hot water over them, cover and allow to soak overnight.
The next day, the mixture will be golden and floral.
If you don’t have muslin you can line a colander with a clean tea towel. I pour boiling water through the tea towel before use, to make sure it’s as clean as possible.
Pour the mixture into the lined colander and once drained, give it a squeeze to get all the juice out.
5. Add fruit zest and juice
Add the zest and juice of 3 lemons and 1 orange. The first time I made this cordial I misread the instructions and did this bit the day before. If you accidentally do the same, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.
6. Add sugar, heat and bottle
Add sugar to the pan, heat gently and then pour into sterilised bottle using a funnel. It is important to sterilise the bottles properly or your cordial will go mouldy very quickly.
7. Seal and cool
Seal the bottle and allow to cool. I like to leave the cordial for a couple of days after bottling to allow the flavour to develop.
The colour this year is much paler than last years and the dry elderflowers have made a big difference to the taste. It can be diluted with water or carbonated water and is also tasty drizzled on cereal, fruit or made into elderflower jelly.
We like drinking ours with crushed mint leaves on warm days. Bring on the sunshine!