Friday, 29 May 2009

Elderflower Cordial, The Essence of Summer - Cinderella goes to the ball.

Elderflowers in their first flush, shimmering like Cinderella's dress at the Prince's ball

The flowers infusing

The elderflowers have been bursting into millions of tiny white flowers and with the floral erruption comes a sweet and heady scent. Brilliantly white and shimmering delicately, they are the fabric of Cinderella's dress at the ball. The Domestic Fairy Godmother can transform Cinderella's dazzling dress into a summer drink which is the definition of summer itself.

In their first flush the smell is delightfully fragrant, but within a few weeks this delight is lost and just as Ciderella's glass coach turns back to a pumpkin, so the sweetness turns to a rather foul cat's pee aroma...... From the Prince's ball, back to the cinders of the fireplace.

But Cinders can go to the ball, and the magic captured for the rest of the year......... The Domestic Fairy Godmother waves her wand.

On a sunny May afternoon, I picked elderflowers on Hampstead Heath. Clearly a forager and safe person, about 6 people stopped to ask me the way to the here and there. It was like walking with a dog and small child, you're alright. Numerous people asked me what I was doing and how to make it and we chatted about steralising bottles, sugar/water ratio and general delights of elderflowers.

Of the few ingredients for the recipe, you will need some citric acid which you will find from the pharmacist's counter.

So here is the recipe.

The most important ingredient is a happy forage.
  • 20 heads of freshly flowering elderflowers
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 1 kilo sugar
  • 50gms citric acid
  • 2 lemons
  1. Shake the elderflower heads to get any tiny insects out.
  2. Boil the water, add the sugar to disolve.
  3. Clean the lemons and pare the rind, slice the lemons.
  4. Add everything together and pour on the sugar water.
  5. Cover either with a lid or a tea towel and leave to infuse.
  6. Stir twice a day for 5 days.
You really don't need to do 5 days, I am trying it this way this year. But a good 24 hours is essential. 48 even better.

Bottle into steralised glass bottles or plastic bottles. Elderflower cordial freezes very well.

You will taste the summer.


  1. You have such a romantic way witth words. I remember you chatting about elderflower cordial in a past life on Nigella.Com. Mine have not flowered yet but I have a pink one. I reckon that would be so pretty.. Your blog is gorgeous. I am going to show it on Vi's pantry. Lovely job x

  2. Oh the pink ones! I think you've just outdone Cinders there! Get the lemons lined up. Happy cordial times! Sarah x

  3. Have you tried without the lemons? Wondering about replacing them with a locally sourced ingredient, or leaving out altogether..
    Gemma x

  4. The cordial really needs a sharp edge as well. Wonder about using sorrel and how the syrup would take that on...... It's certainly sour enough. On paper it should work. Have you done this? S X


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