How to Make Delicious Elderflower Cordial
Elderflowers, also known as Sambucus, are tiny, star-shaped flowers that grow on the elder tree. They have a sweet and delicate aroma that infuses well with various recipes. One of the most popular ways of using elderflowers is by making elderflower cordial, which is a refreshing drink perfect for hot summer days. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of making delicious elderflower cordial in the comfort of your home.
Ingredients and Tools
To make elderflower cordial, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- About 20-30 fresh elderflower heads
- 1L water
- 800g sugar
- 2 lemons (sliced)
- 50g citric acid
Additionally, you will require the following tools:
- A large mixing bowl
- A large saucepan
- Spatula (for stirring)
- Cheesecloth/muslin cloth
- A sieve
- Bottles with tight-fitting lids (preferably sterilized)
It’s important to sterilize your bottles beforehand by washing thoroughly and then placing them in an oven (150°C) for 10-15 minutes.
Before jumping into the recipe, it’s important to know how to prepare your elderflowers properly. Here are the steps:
- Firstly, locate some elder trees in your area. Look out for flat-topped clusters of small white flowers with a distinctive aroma.
- Pick the elderflowers when they’re freshly bloomed, just opened up and haven’t wilted yet. It’s best to pick them in the morning as that’s when the fragrance is most robust.
- Cut off most of the stem, leaving the flowers intact. This helps with washing.
- Once you’ve collected the flowers, rinse them gently under cold water to remove any dirt or insects. Be careful not to damage them, as elderflowers are quite delicate.
Now that you’ve got your elderflowers prepped and ready, it’s time to make your cordial:
- Place 1L of water and 800g of sugar in a large saucepan. Heat gently while stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves completely. This should take about ten minutes.
- Add your sliced lemons, citric acid, and elderflowers into the saucepan and stir thoroughly.
- Boil the mixture for about five minutes or until you see bubbles forming on top of the pan. Ensure that you keep stirring occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom.
- Remove from heat and leave it to sit for at least 24 hours. During this time, the fragrance of the elderflowers infuses into the syrup.
- After 24 hours, line your sieve with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and strain your mixture into a clean mixing bowl. Squeeze out any excess liquid from your cheesecloth/muslin cloth.
- Pour your strained cordial into sterilized bottles and seal tightly with clean bottle caps or corks. Store in a dark and cool area away from direct sunlight!
Congratulations! You’ve just made delicious homemade elderflower cordial.
Variations to Try
If you feel like experimenting, there are different ways to add variety to your elderflower cordial recipe:
- Adding ginger, mint, or even strawberries can give your cordial an exciting twist.
- For a fun alcoholic beverage, add gin or rum into the mix.
- You can play around with the sugar content to make your cordial less sweet or more refreshing.
To maintain the freshness and taste of your elderflower cordial, store it properly by following these steps:
- Ensure that you use clean and sterilized bottles with tight-fitting lids to prevent bacteria build-up.
- Store in a cool, dark place like a cellar or fridge to avoid degradation due to sunlight and heat.
- The ideal temperature for storing elderflower cordial is between 4-5°C (fridge temperature).
Apart from being a refreshing beverage, elderflower cordial has several other uses:
- You can mix it into salad dressings or sauces to add a unique flavor.
- Elderflower cordial can be added into your baking recipes such as cakes or muffins for an extra punch of flavor.
- Mixing your elderflower cordial with sparkling water makes for a delicious mocktail that will keep you refreshed all summer long.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Mistakes are common when making elderflower cordial! Here are some common ones and how to avoid them:
- No Citric acid – Lemon is commonly used in elderflower cordial recipes due to its acidity, but citric acid helps improve the shelf life of the cordial. By omitting it, you get fewer chances of storing the drink for long periods.
- Over-boiling- Ensure you boil the mixture under low heat to prevent over-boiling and ending up with an overly thick syrup. If it does become too concentrated, add some water to it.
- Not sterilizing bottles- This can lead to bacteria growth in your cordial, which will reduce its lifespan significantly. Remember, prevention is better than cure!
With this guide, you’re now equipped with all you need to make delicious elderflower cordial at home. It’s an easy-to-follow recipe that doesn’t require advanced expertise. With proper storage, your homemade elderflower cordial can last up to several months, allowing you to enjoy the delicate flavor all year round. Don’t forget to experiment with different mix-ins and flavors and share your creations with family and friends!
FAQs on How to Make Elderflower Cordial
Q: What is elderflower cordial?
Elderflower cordial is a sweet, fragrant syrup made from the flowers of the elderberry plant. It’s a popular summer drink in Europe, and it can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with sparkling water or cocktails.
Q: Where can I find elderflowers?
Elderflowers typically bloom in late spring or early summer, and they can be found throughout North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. Look for elderberry bushes along roadsides or in fields and wooded areas.
Q: What equipment do I need to make elderflower cordial?
- A large pot
- A strainer or cheesecloth
- A funnel
- A glass jar or bottle
- A knife
- A cutting board
- A measuring cup
Q: Do I have to use white sugar?
You can use any type of granulated sugar you like, but using white sugar will produce the clearest, brightest syrup. You can also experiment with alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, but they will change the flavor of the final product.
Q: Can I use dried elderflowers?
Fresh elderflowers are preferred for making cordial because their delicate aroma is best captured when they’re fresh. However, if you can’t find fresh elderflowers, you can use dried ones instead. Use about half as many dried flowers as you would fresh ones.
Q: How long does elderflower cordial keep?
Elderflower cordial will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, or up to 6 months in the freezer. Be sure to store it in a glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid.
Q: Can I use elderberry instead of elderflower?
No, elderberry and elderflower are two different parts of the same plant. Elderberries are small, dark berries that ripen in late summer or early fall, while elderflowers bloom in late spring or early summer. You can make elderberry syrup instead of elderflower cordial if you like, but the process is different.
4 Key Takeaways for How to Make Elderflower Cordial
- Choose the right flowers: Elderflowers need to be fresh and in full bloom, harvested on a dry day when you can smell their fragrance. Avoid any brown or wilted ones.
- Use quality ingredients: Lemon, sugar and water are the basic ingredients, but choose fresh and high-quality items. Organic lemons are a great choice!
- Follow the recipe carefully: Making elderflower cordial is easy but requires following the recipe closely. Remember to remove the pith from the lemon and avoid over-boiling your ingredients.
- Store properly: Once you have made your delicious elderflower cordial, store it in a clean and sterilized bottle or jar. Keep it in the fridge and consume within four weeks.
Making elderflower cordial is not only delicious but also a fun activity for anyone to try at home. With these tips, you’ll be making batches of flavorful cordials that will delight your friends and family for weeks to come!