I wasn’t very pleased with my last year’s attempt at elderflower cordial – I didn’t quite like its look and somewhat bitter taste but then again, I may have chosen the wrong recipe. When my friend phoned me last week saying she had more elderflowers she could possibly cope with, I was hesitant at first. But when the freshly picked elderflower heads arrived, they looked and smelt so different from last year’s crop – the clusters of creamy white flowers were sending out a wonderful summery aroma I couldn’t resist.
I knew instantly I was going to have another go at elderflower cordial, so I searched through a few English and Slovak websites before picking a recipe that looked just right to me. The end result was more than satisfying – I loved the shiny, golden hue of the cordial and its tangy-sweet flavour, which gave such a pleasingly refreshing drink when mixed with cold water.
Home-made Elderflower Cordial
- 2 l water
- 40 elderflower heads
- 1½ kg sugar
- 3 lemons
In a large cooking pot, bring the water to the boil and let cool down to room temperature. Trim the flowers off the firm stems, leaving the clusters intact. Squeeze the juice out of the lemons.
Soak the flowers in the cooled water, add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover the pot with a lid and let stand in a cool, dark place for two days.
Gently squeeze the flowers in your hands before removing them from the pot. This will ensure all the flavours and aroma are caught in the extract. Strain the extract through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean pot. Discard any remaining flowers and line the sieve with a cheesecloth. Pass the extract through it to achieve a clear, shiny look.
Place the pot with the extract over a medium heat and add the sugar. Warm to about 50ºC (or until you can dip your finger in it without getting burnt). Stir all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat.
While still warm, pour the syrupy liquid into clean, dry bottles or jars*. Screw on the lids and stand the jars upside down or lay the bottles horizontally on a table to cool slowly and ensure a good seal.
Keep in the fridge and serve mixed with cold water as a light, refreshing summer drink.
*We in Slovakia often reuse bottles and jars from other drinks, but we’ll always make sure they’re thoroughly washed and dried before filling them again.