Every year I miss elderflower time. I keep reading Fay’s post about making cordial, and when we visited last year we got to taste some of hers and it really was just marvellous, yet each year I forget until it’s too late.
Not this year though!
Although I confess it wasn’t the happy-skippy, carefree summery experience I’d imagined. I spent quite a lot of time battling with nettles and brambles and long grass, reaching and jumping to find the best flowers, and feeling very glad I was wearing trousers rather than the wafty floaty skirt I’d imagined picking elderflowers in.
I went on my way home from the community allotment, and had forgotten to take my basket (as well as a wafty skirt, I always imagined picking elderflowers with a basket…). But no, I had to make do with a pink string bag. Perfectly cheerful, although quite difficult to get elderflowers into and out of… Basket next time I think.
I followed the same instructions as Fay, leaving out the citric acid (I didn’t have any). Having a bit of a mooch around the internet it seems there are two main ways of making elderflower cordial – you can either make a syrup with sugar and water first, then plonk your elderflowers in it, or plonk the elderflowers in water, strain, then make a syrup out of the elderflowery liquid.
I did it the first way round – boiled up sugar and water while I sorted the flowers and encouraged the beasties to leave (I did that bit in the garden). I wasn’t too particular about removing all the stems, as you can see (I much prefer low maintenance activities).
Not quite so pretty once everything was bundled into one pan together (and you can see I also followed Fay’s advice not to bother zesting the lemons first). I did add an extra lemon because I’d missed the citric acid.
I left everything soaking in the pan overnight with a teatowel over the top, intending to strain it the next day, but then I was poorly so it all got ignored for another day.
Last night I tried to strain it through the tea towel – except the weave was too small and the cordial too thick and it just sat there and wouldn’t soak through at all! I tried just an ordinary seive, which left me with cordial full of bits. Much experimentation and pouring later I had no clean tea towels left and was sticking to the floor (and the table, and my clothes) but I had three lovely bottles of shimmery, summery goodness.
It’s FAR too sugary even for my sweet tooth, and I suspect it would have been rather better with the citric acid… I’m not sure how much I’ll drink as ordinary cordial…
Fortunately I have many other plans, and will be stirring it into my gooseberry jam, pouring it over ice cream, and drinking it with gin and tonic for a start.
Have you made elderflower cordial? How did you do it? Was it a success?