Right now, at the end of May in South East England, is the time to go and pick a large, double handful of just opened elderflower heads, with which to make the ridiculously easy, but exquisitely delicious Elderflower Cordial. All you need are a few lemons and oranges, around a kilo of granulated sugar, and ( although not essential) some citric acid from a local brewing shop. And some sturdy plastic bottles or well washed out and sterilised plastic milk bottles. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of months. You will also be able to freeze this for at least a year, as long as you leave an expansion space in each plastic bottle. If you cannot get any citric acid, just add two more lemons and make sure you don’t leave it in the fridge, or unfrozen for more than two weeks, otherwise it will start to ferment!
Diluted with sparkling water this is sublime. And equally amazing just diluted with tap water and a few ice cubes. It used to concern me how commercial brands of Elderflower Cordial, supposedly made with the same ingredients, would taste so bland compared to my own. Then, I discovered that a lot of pasteurisation, freezing, and reconstituting from frozen concentrates goes on….!
BUT, homemade Elderflower Cordial, when made into a Cocktail called a “Twinkle “ shows its true colours as a real crowd pleaser! Simply put a single pub measure of vodka onto ice cubes into a large flute, add 15-20ml of elderflower cordial, a slice of lemon, and top up with Prosecco. Stir well. Easier by far to make in the same proportions in a large jug for all your guests.
Here is a truly foolproof recipe that I have been using for years. In fact I even made it for my daughter’s wedding last June.
20 to 30 elderflower heads, less if really big
1.135 kg of granulated sugar
3 lemons thinly sliced, or 5 lemons if no citric acid
3 small oranges thinly sliced
30 g citric acid ( optional, if using two extra lemons)
1.150 litres water
Four to five 500 ml plastic PET bottles with screw lids. Or suitable sterilised plastic milk cartons or other recycled drinks bottles with screw lids.
Knock the tiny bugs and midges out of your elderfower heads over the sink. Wash under a running tap if needed.
Bring the sugar and water gently to the boil in a large stainless steel pan. Throw in the Elderflower heads and sliced fruit, and quickly bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the citric acid if using, stir well, cover, and leave for 24 hours in a cool place.
The next day, strain through a nylon sieve, or through musin, and bottle. If freezing, do leave a good space for expansion!
Otherwise refridgerate, and use within two months.
Many a Happy Christmas Eve Drinks Party chez nous has been fuelled by a Twinkle!