Red elderflower cordial

Ursula from Easton Walled Gardens makes a stunning red elderflower cordial.

This week I have been mostly making elderflower cordial. I used flowers from our dark red elders that we planted in the gardens some years ago.

red elder

The bonuses of growing these cut-leaved, deep red bushes are:

1. Elders are very sociable and love to grow near houses so they are easy.

2. The dark forms look sensational when grown with plants that have lime green shades. I grow them entwined with golden hops and honeysuckle (Lonicera tellmanniana).

red elder

3. When you use the flowers to make elderflower cordial it turns out this colour:

red elderflower cordial

My recipe for straight elderflower cordial

(I am definitely an amateur so please ask a professional if you are unsure of any of the techniques listed below)

I have substituted as many pink flowers as were available. About 17 pink flowers to 3 white in the batch shown in bottles above.

20 Elderflower heads: unwashed and heavy with pollen.

The zest of 3 lemons in wide strips

The segments of one lemon with all the white rind cut off

30g of Citric Acid (hard to get hold of as it has something to do with heroin use. It’s almost flattering that chemists look at me suspiciously when I ask for it)

1kg granulated sugar

1.75 litres of water.

Put the lemon bits and elderflowers in a big bowl. Boil the water and add the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved leave to cool slightly before pouring over the elderflowers and then sprinkle the Citric Acid on top. Cover with a cloth and leave for 24 hours.

I am not a very confident sterilizer of glass so I think this next bit guarantees cleanliness. Strain the liquid into a pan through a muslin so that it comes out clear. Heat until it boils. Meanwhile, warm some bottles or jars under a hot tap. (so they don’t explode when you pour the hot liquid into them) When the liquid has boiled, allow it to cool until it is not bubbling. Pour into bottles. Use a funnel and be careful. When filled leave the lid perched on the top to allow the steam to escape and to sterilize the lid. Tighten when cool.

Very important: Pick only fresh elderflowers that smell sweet. The picture below shows an inflorescence at its best. If you pick old flowerheads, your elderflower cordial will be horrid. Just so you know.

The elders can be seen in the pickery at Easton Walled Gardens and home made Elderflower Salad Dressing is available for sale in the tearoom.

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3 Responses

  1. Debbie

    We have the same taste! I bought sambucus nigra black lace and plan on buying golden hops next year for the wall! I promise next year to pick elderberries and ask my friends where to get citric acid in Surrey!

  2. Gaz

    Might have to give this a go, like Debbie we have a black lace, but also a regular elderberry.


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