There is little more refreshing in the summer months than the cool clinking of ice cubes in a jugful of homemade elderflower cordial. The hedgerows and verges are brimming with their cloud-like heads at the moment and when picked on a sunny afternoon their sweet, floral fragrance is a reminder of quite how idyllic the English summertime can be.
I have chosen not to use citric acid in this recipe, partly because it can be tricky to find, while I also like the idea that the final cordial remains true to its natural ingredients. Instead, I like to add fresh lemon juice at the end to achieve that much-loved zingy characteristic.
You will also see that the sugar content is slightly lower than some recipes, again because I find that often it can overshadow the delicate taste of the elderflower. As a result, the cordial will not be as thick and syrupy as other recipes – but equally rewarding, I think.
Tip: Should you have the space, try freezing the cordial in small batches. This will ensure your supply will not spoil.
25 heads of elderflower (for maximum flavour, pick while the sun is shining)
2 limes, sliced
1.5 litres of water
800g caster sugar
Gently wash the elderflower heads under cold water and place into a large bowl.
Peel a thin layer of the zest from 5 of the lemons, slice the fruit and add to the elderflower with the sliced limes.
Bring the water to the boil and gradually stir in the sugar. Simmer gently until all of the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the elderflower, lemons and limes. Cover with a cloth and leave to sit in a cool, dry place to infuse for 24 hours.
Place a muslin cloth or large, fine sieve over another large bowl and strain the mixture. Squeeze the juice from the remaining 2 lemons and stir through your cordial.
Pour into sterilised bottles or freezer-proof containers. Seal tightly and store until ready to use.