If you haven’t picked any elderflowers to make a cordial yet, you should do so now before it is too late. It has been warm and sunny and so a stroll in the countryside is no chore! Just bring a bag or a basket with you and get picking!

Elderflower cordial is certainly popular in the UK and goes back to the Victorian times. However, a similar drink can be traced back to the Roman times and is now enjoyed through out what used to be the Roman territory.

I remember picking flowers, as well as the berries later in the year, with my mum when I was little. She would then make cordials, vinegars and a thick elderberry syrup to be enjoyed in the winter months to stave of colds by strengthening the immune system. It is amazing how a smell can remind you of such wonderful times from your childhood!

Cordial is amazingly easy to make:

You need about 25 elderflower heads per litre of water. Clean your flowers gently in cold water to get rid of any unwanted passengers and place them in a large sauce pan.
Pour boiling water over the flowers and leave them to steep. I like to add a halved lemon, lime and orange (or you can just use 3 lemons) – just squeeze the juices in with the flowers and chuck the fruit in as well.
Leave to steep for 24 hours and then strain.
You then need to add sweetener – 550g sugar, honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar to taste.
Bring this to boil, and leave for 2 minutes, making sure the sugar has dissolved.
Pour this through a funnel into preserved bottles with a security seal and close whilst still hot!

Ways to use up your cordial:

Try adding to champagne for an Elderflower bellini or to sparkling water for a non-alcoholic beverage. Elderflower flavour also works well in gin and tonic and many cocktails. Try adding to cream or yoghurt to put on top of meringues, pavlova or pancakes. You can also reduce the cordial to a thick syrup by boiling and pour over ice-cream! Elderflower works well with Gooseberries – here is a zingy Syllabub recipe

Chef tip:

For a fun dessert or snack, wash fresh flowers, leave to dry and then dip in tempura batter and deep fry for a minute and serve sprinkled with icing sugar. If you have any leftover pancake batter after breakfast, you can dip the flowers in that as well and fry for an elderflower pancake.