Saturday, 2 June 2012

Respect your Elders....

It has long been said that the English summer does not start until the Elderflowers are in bloom.

Well. I guess that means it's here.

I'll be blogging throughout the next few weeks on what else you can do with them, but it would be scandalous not to start with what is our favourite summer drink - Elderflower Cordial.


Makes 2 litres of cordial (which diluted 1:5 parts water makes 10-ish litres of summer drinks depending on how strong you like your squash.

20-30 Elderflower heads
1 Kg of white sugar
2 lemons
2-3 oranges
spoonful of citric acid (if you want to make a batch that will last a year)....if it's quick batch to drink in the next few weeks...don't worry about this bit
sterilised bottles that don't mind 80degree C hot syrup being poured into them...

1)Gather the Elderflowers

Don't take too many off any single want to leave some to turn into elderberries later in the year!

you need about 20-30 fully open flower bunches

Gently snip them from the tree, and trim off as much stalk as you can, and pick off any insects without disturbing the flowers, as the pollen shakes free very it's the pollen that is the flavour! be careful not to lose too much

2)Steep overnight with citrus flavours

Grate the zest of a couple of lemons, and slice a couple of oranges (you want the juice of the lemons keep the lemons!)

put them in a 3 litre pan or bowl with the elderflowers, and pour over 1.5Litres of boiling water.

cover and leave to steep overnight.

3)Make the cordial
Strain the steeped flowers, and use a muslin bag to squeeze as much flavour out of the flowers you can - don't worry if it's a bit means more pollen and more flavour! - the steeped liquid should now be a pale yellow colour and smell deliciously fragrant.

put the liquid in a 3 litre pan,
add 1Kg of sugar,
juice a couple of oranges and add to the liquid
juice the two lemons you zested last night and add to the liquid
add the citric acid if using
gently heat the liquid and stir until the sugar has dissolved
 (there should now be about 2 litres of liquid cordial once the sugar has dissolved)

4)Sterilise and bottle it
Heat the liquid until 80degrees C (i.e. sterilise temp) but DO NOT BOIL! you'll start to lose the aromatics if you heat it too much!
pour the now slightly syrupy cordial mixture into sterilised bottles, and seal.

leave to cool, then enjoy all summer, with ice and a slice (it also goes well as a shot of cordial added to a Gin and Tonic!)



  1. Hi just found your blog, am trawling back through past posts at the moment. Am very interested to see what you find here in Kent, I am very interested in foraging rather scared of picking the wrong thing though :-S

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Welcome the The Nook!

      best place to start is with things that are the close relatives of the things you find in the supermarket, and work out from there, which is basically how we started.

      every field boundary in Kent has a wild apple tree growing somewhere in it!

      recommended place to start is "food for free" by Richard Mabey - the original and the best. you can still get it in pocket book form.

      have a look through the blog, and many of the other blogs on the subject too, and google is your best friend when it comes to identification as there is little that somebody somewhere hasn't worked out what to do with it, or why you should avoid it.

    2. thank you for the advice, I will look out for the book I like the idea of having something I can take out with me :-)