Prelude to Summer - Old Fashioned English Elderflower Cordial

"The English summer is thought to start when the elder blossoms end and the berries ripen. The citrus aroma floating down country lanes also heralds a bountiful harvest for the forager and home-brewer. Elderflower cordial costs more as the bottles get smarter and it’s seen as a luxury, which seems ludicrous to me, as I know that you can make it for next to nothing! Elderflower cordial is a wonderful base for all sorts of culinary treats............lemonade, sorbet, mousses, jelly, desserts, beverages, glazes etc. It is very easy to make, although you need to plan ahead as the flowers need to be steeped in the sugar mixture for four days. The flowers taste best picked early on a dry, hot day, and speed is crucial: they should be used straight after picking. The cream-coloured heads (or umbels) are tastier than the white, and don’t worry if they smell unappetising at first once they’re infused, the heady scent is delicious.Choose umbels free of discolouring and keep them dry until you’re ready to begin. Folklore: * One name for it is the Judas Tree, as it was thought to be the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from * To fell a tree without suitable protection could free a spirit called the Elder Mother to take her revenge * The elderflower was said to be a protection against witches, and a knotted twig kept in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism * Elderflowers were apparently never struck by lightning, and a cross of elder fastened above stables would protect the animals from evil Medicinal benefits * Elderflower cordials and elderberry wines are high in vitamins A, B and C * In A Modern Herbal of 1931, Mrs Grieves recommends an elderflower infusion, taken hot before bed, as a remedy for colds and throat trouble * Mrs Grieves swears by elder leaves as an insect deterrent. The foul-smelling bruised leaves around tender plants and buds prevent attack by aphids and cater-pillars, and gardeners can add a sprig to their hatband to ward off midges * Medical herbalist Christine Houghton says a daily elderflower infusion, made with fresh flowers, is helpful in preventing hay fever"
 
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photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
photo by French Tart photo by French Tart
Ready In:
96hrs
Ingredients:
5
Yields:
1 Litre Bottle
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ingredients

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directions

  • Place the freshly picked elderflowers in a large heatproof bowl or pan (that can be covered or has a lid). Add the sliced lemons. Then add the sugar.
  • Pour the boiling water over and add the citric acid - stir all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Make sure the lemon slices and most of the elderflower heads are under the sugar water. Cover and leave in a cool place for 4 days.
  • Every day, remove the lid and stir the mixture - pressing the lemon slices gently to extract the juice.
  • You should be able to smell the beautiful floral fragrance of the elderflowers after only one day -- if after 4 days you feel there is not enough "floral" flavour to the cordial, leave for a further day.Remember, that this will be diluted to drink or added to other ingredients, so it should be as strong as possible in smell and flavour!
  • When you are ready to bottle the cordial, strain through a non-metallic FINE sieve (lined with muslin if necessary - if the sieve is not fine enough) into a large pouring jug or bowl.
  • Then pour the cordial into clean and sterile bottles. Seal the bottles and store the cordial in a cool, dark, dry place. This cordial is ready to use/drink now, and it will keep for a very long time if stored in the right conditions. (I have some from 4 years ago and it is still as fragrant and floral as the day I made it!).
  • NB: Citric acid can be found in chemists or pharmacists, or in special brewing and wine-making shops/departments. If you cannot source citric acid, use an extra lemon instead.

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RECIPE SUBMITTED BY

<p><strong><span>The sunflowers in the field behind my house in SW France:</span></strong></p> <p><img title=Sunflowers src=http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r271/copperhorse58/DSCN8221.jpg alt=Sunflowers width=640 height=480 /><br /><strong><span><br /><br />I am British (English-Scottish), but I was born in South Africa and have lived all over the world, including Hong Kong, Germany, Cyprus, USA &amp; Singapore. I have also been very fortunate to have travelled extensively over the years.........I still have wanderlust! <br /><br />I used to be an English Literature &amp; Art History teacher &amp; lecturer; before that, I trained and worked as a Graphic Designer for many years. I now live in France with my husband &amp; my daughter who has just started university in September 2006. We also have one very chatty Burmese cat Willow, who allows us to live with her here! (I used to have three cats, I recently lost Monty, a beautiful seal point Siamese and before that, Rama, who was a debonair blue point Siamese cat - I would love to have another Siamese cat or cats in the future!)</span></strong></p> <p><em><strong><span>This is my Burmese Cat, Willow, sunning herself on the log pile in the kitchen garden:</span></strong></em></p> <p><strong><img title=My src=http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r271/copperhorse58/ABaconButtyandSundryFoodPhotos34.jpg alt=My width=640 height=480 /></strong></p> <p><strong><span>Here is my lovely Monty, a seal point Siamese, and Willow, sitting&nbsp;in the kitchen garden last year, and a few months before Monty died; he was 18yrs old:</span></strong></p> <p><img title=Monty src=http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r271/copperhorse58/AbsolutelySinfulStickyToffeePudding.jpg alt=Monty width=640 height=480 />My</p> <p><strong><span>This is my wonderful old boy, Rama, a blue-point Siamese, who died when he was 20yrs old - excuse the old and much sellotaped photo:</span></strong></p> <p><img title=Rama src=http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r271/copperhorse58/Rama1stOctober2004164.jpg alt=Rama width=517 height=639 /></p> <p><strong><span>My favourite pastimes are: reading, writing, painting &amp; drawing, photography, gardening, anything creative, walking, travelling, dining out and of course COOKING! I love all types of cuisine, but especially Traditional British - and NO it is NOT all bad!! I particularly love food associated with the changing seasons plus traditional feasts &amp; festivals, as well as Slow Cooking. I also enjoy French &amp; North African cuisine, come to think of it, there isn't much I don't like! <br /><br />My husband &amp; I run a Chambres D'Hotes, (Bed and Breakfast) called Auberge de la Fontaine here in beautiful South West France; we specialise in Gourmet Food &amp; Wine Breaks, French Antiques &amp; Restoration courses, French Language courses and French Cookery classes. Our home is completely furnished with Antique French furniture that we have rescued &amp; restored ourselves. Our charming village has one of the oldest Churches in the region &amp; it is famous for its connection with the St.Jacques de Compostella Pilgrimage route, as well as being within the Cognac &amp; Bordeaux wine growing area. <br /><br />We have a wonderful garden where we grow ALL of our own herbs and most of our fruit and vegetables. I specialise in rare, unusual and old-fashioned herbs, which I grow in our walled garden. As well as growing herbs, I also grow many different varieties of lavender, old-fashioned shrub roses and heirloom fruit and vegetables. <br /><br />We have lived overseas for many, many years now - but we both still love going home to Northern England, near Scarborough &amp; York, to visit our family &amp; friends. We also love indulging in dining out when we are there, in a wide variety of EXCELLENT Gastro-Pubs that we have in North Yorkshire; and popping in to have a Pint of REAL ENGLISH ALE in our local pub is a always a must!! <br /></span></strong></p> <p><br /><a href=http://photobucket.com/images/merci%20beaucoup target=_blank><img src=http://i420.photobucket.com/albums/pp287/vi-vie15/Merci/hb09izl7.gif border=0 alt=merci /></a> <br /><br /><strong><span>A Message to all who make and review my recipes! I try very hard to reply to EACH and EVERYONE of you who kindly makes, reviews and photographs my recipes! However, sometimes I am so busy in the B and B, and with other things, that I may be late in sending a personal thank you message, and sometimes I forget completely! I would just like to thank you ALL in advance, and just in case I am late or forgetful in sending a personal thanks. I am always very humbled by anyone who chooses to make one of my recipes, and I love reading the reviews and seeing the beautiful photos that are posted. Merci beaucoup encore! <br /><br />A note about my recipes. All of my posted recipes, whether they be my own concoctions or adaptations from a book or a famous chef, have been tried and tested at least once, by ME! I try to make sure that I am the guinea pig and not you! However, if there is anything you would like ask me about one of my recipes, or a query that I may be able to help you with, please do write and I will try to answer your question as soon as possible. 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