Gathering gorse flowers to make cordial
My partner and I went picking gorse flowers in the Cornish countryside to make gorse flower syrup. Gorse hedgerows line the pathways in this area, and all of the surrounding hedges have started to flower. Gorse flowers give off a coconut scent, but I have not found that these really taste like anything. The flowering times and the availability of gorse varies depending on which county you are in in the UK.
Gorse flower is a prickly bush, and extremely prolific in this area! The tips bloom with half a dozen flowers at a time, with tiny leaves and medium-sized thorns. I would recommend wearing a rubber kitchen glove when picking these flowers. My technique was to gently grab and pull off as many gorse blossoms as possible at a time. You will need a lot of flowers to make gorse flower syrup.
We set out to make a syrup, but we ended up with a much lighter, lemony cordial. It’ll be a very refreshing summery drink, I am really pleased with the flavour. Our host, Caroline doesn’t think it has enough of that coconuts gorse scent imbued in the cordial. She’s not wrong, it tastes like a light, sweet, lemony, refreshing summery beverage…but no strong coconut scent or flavour.
Notes for next time;
The gorse flowers may have needed to be picked during a warmer week, on a fully sunny day to catch all that subtle coconut scent.
How to make gorse flower cordial;
10 cups gorse flowers
7 litres water
8.75 kg sugar
50g citric acid
Makes about 10 litres
Heat the water to a simmer and add the sugar and dissolve. Add the flowers and lemons and bring to a simmer again, then take off heat and let steep overnight.
The next day, add the citric acid and stir in thoroughly to the cordial. Leave to sit while you prepare the bottles, ladle, jugs, jelly bag and funnels.
Wash the bottles you plan to put the cordial in and put them and the lids in the oven on a low heat – around 50°C, to dry the bottles. Boil the kettle and soak the jelly bag, jugs, ladle and funnels in hot water for a few minutes.
Sling the jelly bag over the large-mouthed funnel and ladle the cordial into the bag to filter the flowers out of the liquid poured into the jug. It can be helpful if there is someone else to help with this part. Use a narrow-mouthed funnel to pour the filtered cordial into the bottles.
Clean off with a damp cloth and leave to dry before labelling. Shelf life of unopened bottle should be 6-12 months. Gorse cordial will last longer in the fridge after opening.
I have only used gorse flowers in cordial, and salads. I have also included other gorse cordial recipes (maybe these will have a stronger gorse-coconut scent)
Elderflower season will soon be upon us also! Be prepared with a recipe for how to make a rich sweet elderflower cordial.