The Country Store
Makes 2.25 litres/around 4 pints
1.5kg/3 ½ lbs granulated sugar (cane sugar)
50g/2oz citric acid (available from chemists)
25-30 large elderflower heads (use more if they are small) gently wash and very gently shake to dispel any lingering insects and water.
2 lemons unwaxed, sliced
Dissolve sugar in 1.5litres/2 ½ pints of hot (boiled) water, stirring till dissolved, and leave to cool. When cool stir in the citric acid and add the elderflower and sliced lemon.
Cover and leave to infuse for two days (48hrs) at room temperature. Stir occasionally.
On the third day, strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin TWICE (or a new J-cloth rinsed out in boiling water) pour into clean dry sterilised bottles and pasteurise for 20 minutes at 85oC. Store in a cool, dark place. To serve, dilute to taste with still or sparkling mineral water.
Pasteurised cordial can be stored in a cool and dark place for a few months. If you do not wish to pasteurise your cordial, you should store it in the fridge for no longer than a few weeks.
Pick the elderflowers if possible early morning though any time during the day is OK provided it is not really hot.
Choose a period of dry weather. Avoid picking when raining or after rain.
Choose flowers which have only just opened. Leave those which have gone brown or those that the petals fall off if you gently shake them.
Never pick elderflowers from the roadside.
As well as drinking, it makes a lovely sorbet and also really enhances gooseberries if you had a tablespoon when gently poaching them.