At the end of May / beginning of June, elder comes into flower. It is a great medicinal plant but also makes a tasty, refreshing summer drink.
Follow my step by step instructions to make this delicious elderflower cordial. This recipe makes 2 - 3 litres of cordial.
2. In the biggest pan you have, put 1.5 litres of water and 2.5kg of sugar. Put on a very low heat to help dissolve the sugar in the water. It will take a while so stir occasionally to make sure the sugar doesn't burn. You do not want it to boil at this point and it will look milky like this.
3. Meanwhile, trim as much of the stalks off the elderflowers as you can and put them into a big bowl.
5. Peel two unwaxed lemons with a potato peeler....
and keep the peel......
and slice the lemons.
6. When all the sugar has dissolved (it will still look milky), bring the water to the boil. This will clear your sugary water to make a nice syrup. Remove from the heat.
7. Add to the pan your elderflowers, sliced lemons and lemon peel. You also need to add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Give it all a stir, then cover with a lid and leave for 24 hours.... perhaps invite some friends for dinner while you wait.
8. After a nice evening with friends and family, place a colander over a large bowl and put a clean tea towel or muslin cloth over it. Spoon the mixture into the tea towel and let it drain through the colander to remove all the bits. This will take a while even if you stir it a bit to help it along. It may also take a few bowls if you don't have an enormous one.
9. If you are like me, it's easy to make a very sticky mess so be careful doing this! Pour or spoon the drained cordial into its storage containers - I use a funnel to make it easier. You can store it in sterilised bottles and keep it in the fridge for about 6 weeks. I've used an old lemonade bottle sterilised with Milton's baby bottle sterilising tablets.
Alternatively you can store in ice cube freezer bags in the freezer then just pop one or two elderflower ice cubes in glass of cold water for a cooling summer drink.
10. Finally, after all your hard work, put a small amount of cordial in a glass, dilute with fizzy water to taste, sit in sun pretending it's champagne and celebrate your achievement with a refreshing glass of elderflower cordial!