Recipe updated on 16/05/2019
Weather has turned from Red Wine Please to Rosé S’il Vous Plait. In other words – if you happen to be the designated driver – it’s lemonade season! Today I’m here to help you step up your refresher game with elderflower-infused syrup, a drink very popular here in Central Europe.
Fragrant and refreshing, elderflower cordial is great mixed with seltzer water, makes sensational spritzers with white wine, or add a dash to a gin or vodka and tonic to start an early summer party in style. Also available commercially year-round, but I think you need no convincing that home-made is the real deal.
Elder plants are very common, frequenting woodland fringes and hedgerows. They are not really tall enough to count as trees, but rather too big for a shrub as well. Elderflower season runs from late May to early July.
Culinary uses of the flowers and berries are varied and many, from tea to relishes to natural flavoring in several food products. Note that leaves, twigs, roots and uncooked berries of the elder plant are toxic and should not be consumed!
The flat-topped sprays of white flowers have a distinctly sweet, heady fragrance. The best cordial is made from freshly picked elderflowers. Choose the morning hours of a dry day to harvest – that is when the flowers contain the most pollen, the source of the flavor. Collecting the flowers is a good excuse to get your SO on a walk by the way. 🙂 Oh, and do yourself a favor not to pick from roadsides, you don’t want petrol fumes infusing your drinks. Yikes!
I’ve read somewhere that half-opened clusters are best. Trim as much stem off as you can, than place carefully in a bag or basket. Do not wash flowers back home, try brushing off insects and any other dirt instead before you start.
The rest is easy, cordial is based on simple syrup. All you need besides the pretty blossoms are sugar, water, a bunch of lemons, citric acid and some patience. High concentration of sugar and sterilized containers give the cordial decent shelf life, but adding a preservative of your choice against mold is totally fine.
Fragrant and refreshing cordial made from flowers of the elder plant.
20 elderflower clusters
1,5 kg / 3.3 lbs sugar
1,5 l / 6 cups water
50 g / 3 ½ tbsp citric acid
- Make simple syrup: mix water and sugar in a large pot, heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to a simmer, turn off heat. Let cool.
- Prepare elderflowers: trim stems, brush off any dirt and insects.
- Thoroughly scrub lemons under hot water, than slice.
- Place elderflowers (stems up) and lemon slices in warm syrup. Cover pot with lid.
- Let infuse for 3-5 days in a cool, dark place. The longer the flowers are in the syrup, the more intense the flavor will be, but keep an eye out for mold! Stir cordial every day.
- Drain through a sieve and press liquid from flowers and lemon slices. Drain again, this time through a cheese cloth or a piece of muslin fabric to remove any remaining bits.
- Add citric acid and preservative (if using), bring liquid to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, than fill into sterilized bottles with the help of a funnel.
- Store refrigerated after opening.
How easy is that? Bring a bottle of cordial to the next garden party you’re attending! The 0,5 l (17 oz) reusable Ikea KORKEN bottle makes a perfect vessel at a reasonable price.
If you’re not into the aroma of elderflower, you can always refer to my post on lavender syrup to give your rose spritzers or plain old lemonade a twist. Mint syrup, an essential to every well-represented home bar is also made similarly.
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