Elderflowers come from the elder tree and grow in hedgerows and woods. The tiny white flowers are beautifully fragrant and can be used to make cordial, wine and tea.
The flowers are ready to be picked when the little buds are newly open, usually between late May and mid-June. Choose a dry day and cut the stalks with scissors just below the heads. Try to keep them upright so that the pollen, which gives much of the flavour, isn’t lost. Remove insects by picking through by hand if possible, or by gently rinsing with cold water if you prefer. Don’t forget to leave some on the tree for wildlife (dormice and various insects love the flowers).
20 elderflower heads
400g caster sugar
3 tbsp runny honey
1 litre water
Some recipes recommend more sugar and less lemon, but I don’t like my cordial to be too sweet. Also, the honey adds extra natural sweetness.
What to do:
- Remove insects, by hand or by rinsing gently.
- Put the sugar, honey and water into a large pan. Gently bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
- Finely grate the zest from all 3 lemons and add to the pan.
- Add the elderflowers and gently submerge them all with a wooden spoon.
- Squeeze in the juice from 1 of the lemons, then slice the remaining 2 and add those to the pan.
- Put the lid on and leave to infuse for 24 hours.
- To strain the cordial, pour it through a muslin-lined sieve into a large bowl.
- Transfer to a glass bottle for storage using a funnel.
Serve diluted with still or sparkling water, Prosecco or add a splash to your G&T and enjoy! *
* The Natural Network does not encourage the consumption of alcohol