Have you made your own elderflower cordial yet? If not, what’s stopping you? Delicious summertime drinks really do not get much easier than this! (And it goes great with elderflower lemon curd!)
Over the past three years we’ve really been enjoying learning to forage. Our first experience foraging in Northern Ireland was for blackberries to make jam to go with our new skill of homemade soda bread. Actually, Phil has become an expert soda bread maker! Since then we’ve all learned more about the plants you can and cannot eat and where to find them.
In fact, we don’t have to go far at all to find elder trees to forage from. Just over the fence of our back garden and at the end of our road will do! The country-side nearby doesn’t have many elder trees, but on the other side of Belfast the back roads are lined with elder trees among the hedgerows.
Next year we’ll venture a little further now that we’ve tried and adjusted our recipes and have learned a little more. With our successes we’re more confident and will make more.
My first time having elderflower cordial or wine was about 8 months after arriving in Northern Ireland. A gentleman who was nicknamed “Dracula” due to his pale skin from working nights and his jet-black hair. Being from Transylvania also added a little weight to his name. Dracula was staying in the backpacker’s I was helping out in and he brought a bottle in one evening to have with his supper and offered me a glass. I was hooked!
The elder tree is also in other areas of the United Kingdom and in North America. I hope it’s near you as well so that you are able to try out this super-simple and delicious drink!
Elderflower trees bloom from late May to June/ early July, depending on the weather. Get the blossoms when you can. The whole tree won’t be in bloom at the same time, you’ll likely have some that haven’t yet opened, while others will begin to bear fruit. Just pick the heads that are nice and fresh; maybe even slightly still on the green side. Pick elder flowers when it’s sunny and dry to get the best flavour from them.
Don’t use the stems like I did – they are not edible! Nor are the leaves. We were ok, but I don’t want you to become ill. Also never ingest any plant that you are not familiar with and confident that it is edible.
Elderflower Cordial Ingredients
- 20 – 25 large elderflower heads
- 1.5 litres of water
- 3 -4 lemons (depending on your personal taste)
- 1 kg sugar
- 1 tsp citric acid
Elderflower Cordial Instructions
1) Put the elderflower heads in a large bowl.
2) Zest your lemons. You can use a zester, or just use a knife and very carefully slice the rind from the lemon, trying not to get the pith. Then slice the lemons and add both the zest and slices to the bowl.
3) Sprinkle the citric acid onto the above. Some recipes don’t use this so don’t worry if you can’t find it. I buy ours at our local chemist (pharmacy).
4) Heat the water and sugar in a pot on the stove and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then pour this over the elderflowers and lemons.
5) Catch any little critters that crawl up the sides of the bowl to escape the hot water. This is why I like to use my big white bowl. You could gently rinse your elderflower heads before hand, but you risk shaking off or washing away their delicate flavour.
6) Gently stir the mixture to make sure the elderflowers and lemon infuse and to help dissolve the citric acid.
7) Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let it sit in peace for 24 – 48 hours.
8) Strain your mixture through a clean muslin or linen tea towel. Last year I attempted to use coffee filters, but it just didn’t work very well at all! I’ve since purchased some baby muslin clothes to use just for straining and I can’t wait to put them to use!
9) Pour your elderflower cordial in a sterilized jar or jug and keep it cold in the fridge.
To make yourself a refreshing glass of cordial, dilute the elderflower cordial with sparkling water to a ratio of about 1:10.
The raspberries added a little extra colour and a little burst of flavour at the end of the drink. These were foraged from our own raspberry bushes in the back garden.
Next week I’ll share my recipe for elderflower lemon curd with you, it’s absolutely delicious on scones or gingersnaps as you see in this photo.
Our own elderflower tree is just about to start blossoming, and I’ve seen a couple around that are already in full-bloom and I’m itching to start making more cordial this year! I know I’ll have to make more that I did last year as we shared it with friends and neighbours so our bottle didn’t last very long at all!
Have you tried freezing homemade cordial? Does it work? Please let me know as I think this could make a nice gift later in the year…if we can stop ourselves from drinking it all!