Cordially Yours xxx

The first time I ever tasted elderflower cordial was on Christmas Eve, 1998. It was added to a glass of champagne and served in the traditional Drentse restaurant, the Olde Posthuus, as an aperitif.
‘What is this veritable manna from heaven?’ I exclaimed – I often adopt Dickens-speak around the turn of the year – ‘It tastes like sunshine in a glass,’ my husband interjected.
‘Oh, that’s elderflower cordial,’ the waitress said. ‘It’s very popular in England.’

From that moment on, we were elderflower converts. Belvoir (pronounced Beaver) was our favourite brand and we always stocked up whenever we were in England. These days it’s available in Amsterdam at Marqt but with this current trend for foraging and all things home-made, Frank and I decided to have a go at concocting our own. I had to triple all the ingredients as my other half got a bit carried away while picking the elderflower heads. He came home with about one hundred instead of the thirty required for the recipe. It was definitely worth the effort though. The taste is truly sublime and beats the shop-bought stuff hands down.

Mary Berry says it’s also possible to pick the flower heads fresh and then freeze them straight away if you don’t have time to make the cordial. Put them straight in the mix when you take them out of the freezer. Don’t defrost first as they will go brown.

Last Monday I agreed to meet a girlfriend at de Roos. (New Age Centre in het Vondelpark.) I took some elderflower cordial along with me as a gift. And guess what? My girlfriend’s sister joined us for coffee and she also brought along a bottle of home-made elderflower cordial as a present for my friend. Now, that’s what I call synchronicity.

I hope I’ve inspired you to get out there when it stops raining and have a go yourself. I’d love to hear your foraging adventures!

Ingredients

  • 30 elderflower heads

  • 1.7litres/3 pints boiling water

  • 900g/2lb caster sugar (basterd suiker in NL. Yes, that’s what it’s called!)

  • 50g/2oz citric acid (available from Surinamese or Turkish supermarkets)

  • 2 unwaxed oranges, sliced

  • 3 unwaxed lemons, sliced

Preparation method

  1. Gently shake the elderflowers to remove any little creatures. Cut off the thick stalks.

  2. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a very large mixing bowl. Stir well and leave to cool.

  3. Add the citric acid, the orange and lemon slices, and then the flowers.

  4. Leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

  5. Strain through some muslin and transfer to sterilised bottles.

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About susancarey

Writer and teacher living in Amsterdam. Trying to be mindful and occasionally succeeding!
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5 Responses to Cordially Yours xxx

  1. nessafrance says:

    I love elderflower cordial. I made it about 10 years ago but haven’t since, although the flower heads are abundant this year owing to all the winter and early spring rain. Perhaps I will have another go. I got the citric acid at the pharmacie but had a job explaining what I was making! The French, apparently, don’t use the elderflowers.

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  2. susancarey says:

    Thanks, Vanessa. I’m surprised the French don’t use elderflowers. It would be interesting to know how long it’s been popular in the UK. All I can remember from my childhood is orange and lemon squash.

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  3. christinehayes46 says:

    Sounds wonderful. You’re only the second person in the whole world I know who has made their own elderflower cordial. The first was Judith Vigurs!

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  4. susancarey says:

    Yes, I remember Judy’s elderflower champagne. Very nice it was too! Elderflower is also lovely with G&T, Prosecco or with a Spritzer. No need to be abstemious!

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  5. Sherri says:

    I’ll let you know Susan, thanks so much for the recipe 🙂

    Like

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