This recipe is adapted from an old Mrs Beatons book. I cannot take credit for the original. Suggested alterations are, however, all mine. This is not suitable for anyone who reacts to citric acid or who cannot tolerate at least one type of citrus fruit. Note it is important to use heat-proof bottles and lids.
When gathering your elderflowers it is important that you use a good identification guide so that you are sure you are picking the correct flowers. Do not pick from near busy roads. Never take more than a third of visible blossoms. Do not be tempted to try raw as they contain mild poisons when raw, which are safely neutralised by the boiling water in this recipe.
1kg granulated sugar
20g citric acid (can be bought online or at some chemists)
2 lemons (OR equivalent quantity of any other citrus if you react to lemons. 4 small limes or mini clementines, 3 large satsumas or 1 1/2 navel oranges would work), rind grated and fruit sliced
20 freshly picked elderflower blossom heads, washed and drained
1 litre boiling water
- dissolve sugar in boiling water in a large heat-proof bowl. Stir in citric acid.
- add citrus rind, fruit slices and flowers to bowl.
- weigh down flowers etc. into liquid with a plate, cover bowl with clingfilm, and leave for 12 – 18 hours.
- strain through a fine sieve or muslin and bottle, filling each bottle 3/4 full only. Place caps on bottles. Important! Do not seal bottles – ensure air can escape during sterilisation process.
- Sterilise filled bottles by placing on a pad of paper on an oven tray, putting in a cold oven, heating oven to 120 degrees, and once hot leaving in oven for one hour. Or, use any sterilising technique you are more familiar with.
- Remove from oven, close bottle lids carefully and leave to cool completely before cleaning bottles down. Leave 1 month before drinking.
If sterilised and sealed properly and stored in a cool, dry, dark cupboard, the cordial should keep for 12 months. Use within 2 weeks of opening and store in the fridge once opened. Note this drink needs to be diluted with water in order to be palatable.