make sure you gather your elderflowers on a warm, dry day – never wet
STORIES · 24.06.23
Food | Garden | Mindful Living | Recipes
The hedgerows at home are full of sweetly scented white elderflowers – a joyful sight that signals summer is well underway. We always forage a few bunches to make elderflower cordial, relying on a trusty Darina Allen recipe that has been a staple in my kitchen for many years. To me, its aromatic, floral flavour encapsulates the English countryside, evoking happy memories with my children and grandchildren and long afternoons in the sunshine.
Darina’s full cordial recipe, which comes from her book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking is below. The cordial is wonderful for soaking cakes, drizzling over ice cream or simply topped up with cold sparkling water. You can also try adding a splash to a glass of Prosecco or gin and tonic for a refreshing, seasonal aperitif. Make sure you gather your elderflowers on a warm, dry day – never wet. I have also read that for the best flavour, they ought to be picked and processed within three hours.
Makes approximately 1 litre
10 elderflower heads
800g caster sugar
1 lemon, thickly sliced
50g citric acid
its aromatic, floral flavour encapsulates the English countryside, evoking happy memories with my children and grandchildren
Pull the flowers off the elderflower heads, trying to avoid taking too much of the stem with them, and place in a bowl. The stems, leaves and unripe berries of elderberry bushes contain toxins so be sure to remove all but the flowers, buds and small stems.
Put the water and sugar into a large saucepan. Warm over a medium heat and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the sliced lemons, picked elderflowers and citric acid. Cover the pan and leave to sit for at least four hours, but ideally overnight to intensify the elderflower flavour.
Once the mixture has infused, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer or muslin and use a funnel to pour it into a sterilised bottle. Keep refrigerated and enjoy topped up with iced sparkling water, tonic or Prosecco.
N.B. Rather than wasting the used lemon slices, try freezing them in a plastic bag and adding to drinks you make with your homemade cordial.