Sunday, 14 July 2013


My granny has been making elderflower cordial as long as I can remember. It reminds me of many of my childhood summers in the west of Ireland. She used to make gallons of the syrup but still, there never seemed to be enough to go around. It was always a challenge to see how many bottles we could convince her to give us when we were going home to Dublin.

For the last month I've had my eyes peeled for elderflower, but living in the centre of the city, it was proving quite difficult to find. As elderflower is generally only in bloom throughout June and July, I was under pressure to find some. I managed to convince my Mum to come help me search in Howth and Sutton and after some time, we managed to have success.

To make cordial, you need to get the elderflowers at their best and when they are in full bloom. Once the flowers begin to die, they are less fragrant and won't make a very flavoursome cordial. There is probably only a week or two of flowering left so if you are eager to make a batch of cordial this year, I would make it as soon as possible.

Elderflower syrup is delicious to use in cocktails such as elderflower bellini's or my recent favourite cocktail, an elderflower collins which was made up of gin, elderflower syrup, basil, lemongrass and tonic. Elderflower syrup is also delicious to poach gooseberries in or to add to a fresh fruit salad. 

1kg sugar
1.5 litre water
25 elderflower heads
4 lemons
75g citric acid

Shake the elderflower heads well to get rid of any creepy crawlies. You definitely don't want them in your cordial.
Place the sugar and water in a large, deep saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
Grate the zest of the 4 lemons into the pot, then slice the lemons and add them too. Add the citric acid and elderflower heads and give the mixture a good stir.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to infuse for 24-48 hours. 
Strain the cordial through a muslin cloth or a very fine sieve to remove any impurities. Be careful not to squeeze the syrup through the sieve, let it drip naturally. If you don't, the cordial will be cloudy and you will need to strain it again.
Pour the liquid into sterilised glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
Refrigerate once opened.

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