Deb

mum

Capture summer in a bottle

Follow our tips to make gorgeous elderflower cordial with your children.

Capture summer in a bottle

Living a family life that is more in tune with the seasons is quite a tricky task in our fast paced society. Yet food instantly connects us with nature's timetable.

From growing our own to visiting pick-your-own farms or ignoring those supermarket strawberries in winter, there are plenty of things we can do to take into account the provenance of our food and eat what nature suggests we possibly should, when we should.

Looking to the hedgerows to fill our larder is a fun, seaonal family activity. Making elderflower cordial from the frothy treasure picked from bushes is like capturing summer in a bottle, just as we pick blackberries for crumble to  wrap autumn up in a pud.

But if you want to make your own elderflower cordial you'll have to act fast; there are a few blossoms still ripe for picking but they will be gone very soon.

You will need:

  • Eagle-eyed children to help you spot the blooms (they seem to be good at this)
  • Approximately 30 flower heads (if you can't find this many reduce the rest of the recipe accordingly)
  • 3 litres of water
  • 2lb caster sugar
  • 1 packet of citric acid (from chemists)
  • 3 lemons
  • Enough bottles to for three litres of cordial. Glass are best as they can be washed then dried in an oven to sterilise them.

To make the cordial:

  •  Dissolve the sugar in the water (some people use water from a kettle, we do ours on the hob)
  •  Wash the flowers gently to remove any bugs
  • Slice the lemons
  • Once the sugar solution is cool add lemons, citric acid and flowers
  •  Leave to steep in a cool place for 24 hours then strain the mix through a muslin (or a very fine sieve) and bottle up.

A friend has bottled up her homemade cordial to give as teachers presents (it will last a couple of months) and Jen at The Madhouse freezes hers in ice-cubes to pop into lemonade or water.

If you do want to make this, you have to be quick. If you can't find any elderflowers file the recipe away for next year. It is so simple (and cheap) to make yet quite expensive to buy it would be a shame not to.

Photo credit: Debbie Webber.

6 Comments

  • Ellen

    mum

    Ellen Arnison

    06 July, 2010

    Fantastic recipe, thanks.
    It reminds me of my mum making endless quantities of ginger beer.

  • Screen shot 2011-09-08 at 11

    mum

    RosieScribble

    06 July, 2010

    Fascinating, Debbie. I had no idea you could use flower heads to make cordial. Is citric acid something I can buy in the shops? (Asked by someone with little knowledge of these things as you can probably tell!)

  • Deb

    mum

    Debbie Webber

    07 July, 2010

    Rosie, you can get citric acid in chemists. And you can use elderflowers for jelly, champagne, loads of things. Later in the year you can use the berries to make a syrup (like rose hip I think but have never made this so not too sure, might this year though) that will help you ward off winter colds.

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    admin

    Ready for Ten admin

    07 July, 2010

    Wow Deb fab recipe I've never even considered making cordial! I'm definately going to try it out hope there are still flowers to be had.

    Leigh
    Ready for Ten team

  • Maggie

    mum

    Maggie Christie

    07 July, 2010

    I haven't made any this year - I will as soon as it stops raining! Great idea to give it to teachers as presents!

  • Deb

    mum

    Debbie Webber

    07 July, 2010

    Oh goodness Maggie I am desperate for it to rain here. Hasn't done in aaaaages. And yes, am totally nicking the idea for teacher presents next year!

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