We have lots of elderflower in the garden just now and so I am going to make some elderflower cordial. I first learned how to make this the summer I was 19 and away from home for the first time. I was astonished to discover that the flowers are edible !
I don't add ascorbic acid or lemon juice when I am making this as you will find in some recipes. I just make and bottle the syrup and then add lemon juice when I make it up. Elderflower is very popular now in posh soft drinks and you can save a lot by making this syrup yourself. Here's how to do it.
First make sure that you know which are the elderflowers ! Get a friend to show you as there are lots of white, foamy flowers around just now and you don't want to make a mistake. Some recipes get you to remove the tiny flowers from the stalks with a fork, but I don't bother, I just cut the thick stalks away and then pour boiling water over a bowl full of flowers and leave it to stand for 24 hours.
After 24 hours have elapsed drain the liquid through a sieve and measure it out in pints. For every pint of liquid you need to add a pound of sugar and heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture up to the boil and boil for a few minutes. If you want to bottle the cordial you need to make sure that you have got clean, warm bottles and stoppers ready. Then fill up the bottles right to the top with the hot syrup and stopper tight so there is no gap between the syrup and the stopper. As the liquid cools it contracts and a vacuum is created at the top of the bottle keeping the cordial fresh.
I don't bottle the cordial anymore, I just wait for it to cool and then stick it in the freezer in jam jars. That way I can store it in smaller quantities as we weren't always able to use a whole bottle after we had opened it.
To use the cordial dilute it with water in the same way you would with any other soft drink e.g.) blackcurrant cordial like Ribena. We normally add a good glug of lemon juice to the cordial before diluting as that cuts the sugar and the strong taste of elderflower giving just a nice hint of the flavour in the same way as commercial drinks.
I hope you enjoy this drink as much as we do, especially in the Winter when we like to use up the last of it for a taste of Summer !