It is that time of the year again! Our Elderflower bush is in full flower and summer is well on its way. The two go hand in hand. Even though the Australian summer is not my favourite season – in fact I sort of dread the 40° days as I get older – I am still excited about the prospect of filling our pantry shelves with a new supply of Elderflower cordial. We are just about on our last bottle. The taste of the elderflower brings back some lovely memories of my youth spent in the Netherlands, where elderflower cordial is typically linked to lazy summer days and balmy long evenings.
I am thrilled that after several unsuccessful attempts of growing an Elderflower bush we finally succeeded and are now the delighted owners of a well-established bush that reliably flowers every November.
Elderflower has traditionally been used to assist in the healing of wounds but it’s also helpful in alleviating allergies and treating respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. Studies have shown that chemicals in elderflower and elder berries can help reduce mucus and clear sinuses.
Anyway, I do not use it medicinally, but make elderflower cordial purely to enjoy the refreshing taste and use it as an energy boost after an enjoyable day working in the garden. It beats the chemically flavoured drinks you get from the supermarket every time!
There are many different elderflower cordial recipes, but this one is my favourite: –
ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL RECIPE
60 heads of elderflower
Enough water to cover the flowers (about 3 litres)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 kg of sugar per 1.5 litre of liquid
3 teaspoons of citric acid
Gently remove any bugs on flowers and place the flowers in a clean bucket. Fill bucket with enough water to cover the flowers. Place a plate over the flowers to make sure all flowers stay submerged. Steep flowers in a cool place for 24 hours.
Strain the flowers from the liquid. Measure the amount of liquid to calculate the amount of sugar needed. The sugar preserves the liquid, so the more sugar you use the longer it will last. The above ratio of 1:1.5 is not the best preserving ratio, but I don’t like it too sweet. Once opened, I store it in the fridge.
Add the sugar, lemon juice and citric acid and gently heat the liquid to boiling point, stirring constantly until all the sugar is dissolved.
In the meantime sterilize your bottles by washing them and drying them in the oven (120°C) for approx. 10 minutes. Boil the lids in water for 5 minutes.
Remove bottles from oven and let them cool down a little. Once the cordial has reached boiling point carefully pour it into the bottles and close the lids. Store in a dark place.