EAT: elderflower cordial

I got into foraging a year-and-a-bit ago, after I left my job in London to move back up North; it coincided with an obvious drop in income as I first went freelance and tried desperately to save money for a house deposit (how did that one work out??? IDK ASK COVID-19 I GUESS). So I'm a big believer that any kind of free food is not to be sniffed at, and an even bigger believer in wearing clothes with large pockets to any kind of event with a buffet. 

Elderflower cordial is something we made so regularly as kids that I don't even really consider it foraging though - it's super accessible (I literally just had to cross the road and walk about 20 metres from my house to pick the ones for these photos) and one of the easier flowers to identify. I even made a video of my elderflower picking and cordial making last year, albeit I actually wasn't very happy with it (I was on the cusp of a bad-brains few months and still trying to fight it off) so didn't share the link at all. Did last year's batch come out great? NOPE, so like, shrug emoji. But I really wanted to do better this year.

I wasn't going to write this up as a blog post, but a) I had a couple of requests for the recipe and this seemed a better place to put it than Instagram, and b) jeez louise you guys I have so many open tabs on my phone these days. I need to start writing recipes up as blog posts just so that I don't have to keep a tab open for five years at a time and uselessly try to remember the changes I made, or refer to random notes that I've written on the back of envelopes and then hidden around the kitchen, apparently just to make my life difficult. So like, I'm not anticipating an audience for this, but turns out having a centralised resource online is like, helpful?? Who could have foreseen.

PLUS I can't make videos at the moment due to my absolute lack of hard drive space, and the external hard drive I ordered over a month ago still hasn't arrived, and UGH. So the energy's gotta go somewhere. 

Elderflower Cordial
25 heads of elderflower - pick off the tough stems
1.5 pints / 850ml boiling water
1 lb / 450g caster sugar
2 unwaxed lemons, sliced
optional: 25g citric acid (acts as a preservative)
Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a large mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool - I've found using hot water 'kills off' the flavour. Again, not a scientist - then add the elderflowers and lemon (and citric acid if you're using it).

Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave for 24 hours, giving it an occasional stir.
Line a fine sieve with a muslin cloth (or tea towel) and strain the mixture through it - into a jug is helpful, as you'll need a pouring lip to transfer it into sterilised bottles for storing.

I sterilise my bottles by washing them in hot soapy water and leaving to air dry, then putting them on a baking tray in the oven at about 140C for about 15 minutes. For lids and seals, I just put them in boiling water for a while until I need them. This'll keep the bacteria out and preserve the cordial for longer.

To drink, dilute with sparkling water (or gin and tonic). 

© papillon.Maira Gall