There is little I love more in this world than a dash of homemade elderflower cordial mixed with some ice cold water and sitting outside on a hot summer’s day. The sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers of the elder tree are currently flowering in abundance in hedgerows, scrub and woodlands. If you go out after the rain for a walk in the woods you’re bound to smell the beautiful scent of the elderflower and these fresh flowers make the most amazingly delicious cordial. They are best gathered just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. Gather on a warm, dry day if you can but don’t worry too much if you can’t. Some trees are better than others and you will soon get to know the good ones. It is also good to remember to leave some flowers for elderberry picking later in the year, and then you can make elderberry cordial, which is a lovely warm drink for a cold winters day.
I like to follow a Swedish recipe that I found years ago; it has never let me down yet! You will need to collect 30 elderflower heads, 4 lemons (sliced), 2kg granulated sugar, 2 litres of filtered water and 3tsp citric acid (you can get this from the chemist). This will make about 2.5ltrs which I decant into 500ml plastic bottles so you can put one in the fridge and freeze the rest.
Heat the water, sugar and citric acid in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Put it in a bucket with the sliced lemons and elderflower heads and give it a good stir. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 3 to 4 days, stirring occasionally. Strain and pour into clean containers. The citric acid, lemon juice and sugar, all help to preserve the cordial. Enjoy!
Laura Preston – Falls of Clyde Ranger, Scottish Wildlife Trust
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