Elder is a tree that I have only learned to recognise recently, and it was fuelled by my determination to make and bottle some of the (drinkable) British Classics. First on this list was elderflower cordial.
Elderflower season is over for another year, but fortunately I managed to pick quite a few, and it should not be too hard to find all the ingredients online if you wanted to make it unseasonally. A quick search around has found me elderflowers at The Home Brew Shop 50g at a time…
When using elderflowers fresh, be prepared to wipe up a lot of little flowers – they are small, damp and clingy!
Citric acid is key for this cordial to get a nice sour note amidst all the sweet. I have had the most luck finding citric acid again, in homebrew shops (and surprisingly, in chemists).
Elderflower cordial recipe
Makes about 2.5L
Elderflowers, about 60 umbels
5 lemons, juice and grated zest
75g citric acid
Wash the flowers and fork them off. Slice the zest off the lemon, squeeze the juice and add both to the flowers in a heatproof container.
In a pan, bring the water to simmer, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflower and lemon mixture. Cover and leave overnight.
The following morning, filter out the flowers and pour the mixture into sterilised bottles. Immerse the bottles in a water bath, bring to simmer and leave for 30 minutes before removing the bottles from the heat and allowing to cool slowly. This should kill any remaining bugs and extend the shelf life of your cordial to about twelve months.
If you have any questions about this process, please let me know in the comments!