A refreshing way to enjoy my cordial - especially on a hot afternoon, returning from work.
Cordial; ice and a slice; sprig of lemon mint from the garden, topped up with water - simple and delicious.
I now have a bucket of golden, infused liquid. Into my largest saucepan, this used to be a fabulous old preserving pan, but sadly it doesn't work on my induction hob, so until I find an induction friendly old preserving pan, I'm using just a large saucepan, which does the job, just isn't as aesthetically pleasing!!! So. . . into my saucepan I measure my liquid and add 750 grams of sugar and a tablespoon of citric acid per 1 litre of liquid. Citric acid is a natural preservative which enhances the flavour and lengthens the keeping time of the cordial.
This is then heated gently, stirred continually until the sugar has dissolved and brought to the boil. I allow it to bubble for a few minutes then take it off the heat and leave it to cool for a bit.
Now all ready for bottling. I use the traditional lemonade type glass bottles with the metal hinged stoppers. To sterilise these I simply give them a good wash, rinse and place in a hot oven until dry. To bottle . . Ladle the cordial into a jug, place a funnel into a bottle and pour carefully. Close the stopper and hey presto - a fabulous bottle of elderflower cordial. Label them up and store somewhere cool, dark and dry.
I have been jiggling and stirring my elderflowers and lemons for several days and they are now suitably infused ready for the next stage. I just dive straight in and pull the bulk of the flowers and lemons out with my hands, give a little squeeze and throw these away. (Into my brown compost bin!!) I'm left with a dark brown liquid with little elderflower petals and bits floating in it, this all needs straining so that it is totally particle free. I do this through a piece of muslin. Over the years I've devised a what could seem, a rather complicated and 'Heath Robinson.' stylie contraption, but it works. Upturned stool, each corner of the muslin tied to a stool leg, bucket placed underneath. I then just pour my liquid onto the muslin, which collects all the unwanted stuff and the clear golden liquid is collected in the bucket below - marvellous!
..... now bug free, time for me to sift through the whole lot, throwing out any leaves, scraggy heads and any other unwanted items! Using about 2 fresh lemons per carrier bag of elderflowers. I squeezed their juice all over the flowers and threw the lemon skins into the bucket too, for extra flavour. Using my biggest pans and the kettle, I boiled water and poured it over the flowers - enough to cover them. This is the infusion bit - like making a pot of tea. I gave them a good stir and a squash, making sure the flowers were all well immersed. My tub of infusing elderflowers will now sit in the kitchen, covered with a cloth, out the way, staying pretty cool for 3 days. I'll try and give it a stir once or twice a day. To those not in the know, the house will smell a bit like cat pee! To the informed, the fabulous pungent aroma of country lanes and meadows.
Its that time of the year again, well actually it's later than usual, I don't ever remember picking elderflowers as late as the 1st of July.
I have been watching their growth for a few weeks - the best flavoured cordial is made from full blooms, heavy with pollen and drenched in sunlight.
After a weekend of sunshine, some time to spare and a couple of helpers, I decided that this evening was just the right time for picking. Armed with scissors and plastic bags, we headed to the park.
I guessed right - beautiful, big, pollen laden clusters. We arrived back home, just the way I like it - covered in yellow powder, carrying over flowing bags. Tumbled into tubs the elderflowers will be left over night to allow the bugs to escape.........