June 02, 2012

Respect your elders

It's elderflower season: their creamy flowerheads are appearing in parks, roadsides and odd corners of waste land, filling the air with their heady scent.

Elders are opportunists, early colonisers of forgotten corners and neglected gardens. They're everywhere, once you start to look. So it's wonderful that they can so easily be turned into a sparkling wine or a cordial, and surprising that it's not more widely done.

Here's an easy recipe for elderflower cordial:

30 elderflower heads
900g caster sugar
50g citric acid
2 unwaxed lemons
  1. Remove any stems from the florets and rinse carefully.
  2. Boil three pints of water, then pour it over the sugar in a very large mixing bowl. Stir and leave to cool.
  3. Remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips and add, then the citric acid and finally the flowers.
  4. Cover and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Strain through muslin (or a new J-cloth) and transfer to sterilised bottles.
If you have trouble finding citric acid you can make it without – simply slice the two lemons up and add to the mixture along with the zest. It won't keep for as long, though, so drink it straight away.