Seasonal and fresh, this recipe is a wonderful way to imbibe the benefits of elderflowers, which have been used in traditional medicine systems for thousands of years. Elderflower provides a great remedy for respiratory issues, sinus problems, and elderflower extract has actually proven successful in killing hospital-born pathogens like MRSA. For such a sweet-smelling, unassuming flower, it certainly has a lot to give, and is another great example of the powerful herbal plants we have around us in nature.
You can find elderflowers blooming around early June – pick them on a dry day when the flowers are open, and make sure you know for sure that they are in fact elderflowers! Other plants like cow parsley look similar, but they’re definitely not suitable for eating. Elderflowers are often described as smelling ‘summery’, and they really do smell delicious, and their leaves are jagged at the edges. You’ll likely spot a few of these in bloom whilst out walking as they’re a common UK plant, so pack an extra bag with you for foraging this month!
- Enough elderflower heads to fill a large mixing bowl
- Roughly 2.5 lites of water – add enough to cover the elderflowers
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- 1cm fresh ginger, grated
- Roughly 100g honey
- Pick over the elderflowers for any lingering insects or leaves, then add them to a large cooking pot. You can leave some of the stems on, but try to remove as many large stalks as you can.
- Next, add the lemon juice and zest, lime juice and zest, ginger and honey
- Pour over the water and mix to combine
- Bring everything to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes
- After you’ve simmered the mixture, turn off the heat and leave everything to infuse further for at least a couple of hours – this will lead to a stronger flavour and more benefits from all the ingredients. I left mine to infuse over night.
- The next day, strain the mixture through a sieve and pour the liquid back into the pot
- Bring the mixture to a simmer again, and this time leave for about 40 minutes for the liquid to boil down, slightly
- After 40 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to cool
- Pour into sterilised glass bottles and store in the fridge – best consumed within a couple of weeks.
- This cordial recipe is low in sugar and isn’t as thick as other types of cordial, so the amount you use is totally up to how strong you want the taste to be. Mix with gin and tonic, or with still water for a Summery seasonal squash!