Walking the dogs in the local woods this morning and I noticed all the elderflower are out, which made me want to dig out our favourite elderflower cordial recipe from last year. It’s a really simple activity to do with the kids and one mine really enjoy. We’ve swapped out the sugar in this Elderflower Cordial with Maple Syrup. The result is a light and refreshing drink with just a hint of caramel.
Homemade elderflower cordial is something I’ve always wanted to make – hoping that when they grow up my kids will have warm and fuzzy memories of me doing Earth Mothery type things like this rather than burning frozen peas and ordering pizza. Jump straight to the recipe.
When I realised that the fuzzy white flowers growing at the bottom of my garden were elderflowers I decided to get to it and started looking up recipes online. But then I saw the amount of sugar some of these recipes were calling for and I kind of balked. 600g of sugar for just 500ml of cordial? I might as well ask my kids to go gargle with Coca Cola.
So I decided to experiment with making my own elderflower concoction using maple syrup instead of processed sugar. Although maple syrup is still high in calories, nutritionists say it doesn’t create that same blood-sugar spike that messes with our insulin levels that processed sugar does. It also is said to benefit from having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When I read that this is also true of elderflower, it felt right that they should go together. It took three attempts to get the balance of flavours right but the result is just about perfect.
Batch No. 1 was a disaster. Muttering the immortal words “This could go horribly wrong” I strained the cordial into a measuring jug, managing somehow to pour it all over myself, and then – the highlight – broke the bowl (my favourite) sending a sticky horrible mess all over the kitchen counter, floor and Stephen’s best suit.
Batch No.2 was relatively drama free, but I found the proportion of lemon juice to maple syrup out of whack, leaving it tasting quite bitter. The following recipe I think strikes the right balance. But of course, taste is up to you. Have a go at experimenting. One of the lovely benefits of making this is that your kitchen will smell heavenly after you steep the lemon zest and elderflower.
My kids loved this diluted in fizzy water, but it’s also just as good with plain old tap water. As a lucky accident, I found this is also really very comforting when drunk warm straight from the pan. I’ve read that Elderflower is a natural health remedy for colds, flu and sore throats – both my daughter and I had a sore throat this weekend, so this was really lovely and soothing.
- 20 elderflower heads
- zest and juice of 1 - 2 unwaxed lemons (½ lemon per 500ml liquid)
- maple syrup (6 Tbsp per 500ml liquid)
- Boil a kettle of water and let cool for one minute
- While the water is cooling, give your flower heads a gentle shake to remove any critters
- Remove the zest from the lemons (do not extract the lemon juice yet)
- Put the flower heads in a bowl along with all the lemon zest and pour the water over them until just covered
- Allow to steep for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight if you can
- Line a colander with a tea-towel or muslin and strain the seeped liquid through into a large measuring jug
- Make a note how much liquid you have. For every 500ml I used 6Tbsp maple syrup and the juice from ½ a lemon
- Pour into a saucepan with the maple syrup and freshly-squeezed lemon juice, bring quickly to a boil, turn down the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 5 minutes.
- When the 5 minutes is up, allow to cool.
- When cool, pour into sterilised bottles (glass look nice but plastic are fine)
- Keep in the fridge for up to a week
This is best left to steep overnight.