It’s elderflower season! Now is the time to harvest flower heads to make delicious elderflower cordial. I did exactly that last weekend when I discovered a tree laden with blossom at a friend’s small holding in Greytown.

Elder is such an amazingly useful tree, providing fruit and flowers that have medicinal benefits as well being a tasty ingredient in cordial, syrup and even champagne. I’ve harvested the berries in autumn to make a delicious and nutritious cough and chest tonic. The flowers in infusion are great for hay fever and sinus problems. But today I wanted to make a light refreshing cordial to enjoy as summer sets in.

To harvest, pick elder flowers on a sunny day when they are dry and vibrantly white, and be sure to indulge in their heady scent while you harvest. It’s intoxicatingly good. Avoid heads that have stamens that have started to brown or don’t smell sweet. Give the flowers a wee shoogle before you bag them to shake off any bugs.

Elderflower Cordial

Here’s an elderflower cordial recipe I (more or less) followed:

  • 25-30 elderflower heads
  • 2 litres water
  • Fresh ginger, chopped – say 4cm
  • 3 lemons – juice and rind
  • 1 orange – juice and rind
  • 1kg sugar (!!)
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid

To make cordial, add the 25-30 flower heads to a large pot along with 4cm of chopped fresh ginger, and the juice and rind of citrus fruit. Pour over 2 litres of boiling water and leave to infuse overnight.

The next day, strain the liquid through muslin. Return to the heat and when near boiling dissolve 1kg sugar and 1 teaspoon citric acid into the liquid.

When cooled, pour into sterilized bottles, label and stored in a cool dark place. It couldn’t be easier!

To serve, dilute a measure with fizzy water, add ice, a slice of lime and a sprig of mint. Best enjoyed on a hot summer afternoon after a long day in the garden.

Stay Tuned.

More elder recipes to come, especially now we’ve planted our own elder in the garden. Here she is just a few days after planting.

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