Homemade elderflower cordial is one of the loveliest, quintessentially British things around. It is utterly delicious served with everything from sparkling water for a yummy soft drink, to champagne for a gorgeously refreshing cocktail.
Here, my mother kindly tells us how she makes her twist on this lovely classic: Elderberry Syrup.
This ingenious method really makes the most of the elderflowers and keeps for absolutely ages: hopefully it will inspire some of you to make your own!
‘I’m lucky enough to have a self-seeded elder tree in my garden (or maybe not so lucky – it’s in completely the wrong place and really annoys my neighbour!), but they can often be found in the hedgerows if you live in the country, or the farmers market if you don’t.
You’ll need to be quick, though; the berry season is about to finish!
I could have picked the flowers earlier this year to make delicious elderflower cordial, or even ‘champagne’, but I think elderberry syrup is even more delicious. Try it and see!
First, pick your berries. If they’re very high up in the tree (and the tree is yours) no problem – elders regenerate quickly so it’s a good idea to cut them down now anyway.
WARNING: From here on it it gets very messy: elderberry juice stains!!
Strip the berries (fiddly – some people recommend using a fork but I prefer to use my fingers, though they do get heavily stained), wash, place in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
Boil it gently for about thirty minutes (don’t use an aluminium pan – it will ruin it!) You can include lemon peel, ginger, cloves etc at this stage if you wish – I had an old packet of mulled wine spices this year and that worked really well.
Strain off the juice. An ordinary small-bore sieve will do, but for maximum oomph (and fun!) either line the sieve with muslin or use a jelly strainer (I got the one in the photo for a song from Lakeland).
Squeeze the cloth as much as you like but don’t use a food processor as it will split the sour seeds inside the berries.
Then boil up the juice with sugar and lemon juice – I used about 1lb sugar and the juice of 1 lemon per pint of juice. Stir as it’s heating to dissolve the suger, then boil hard for ten minutes.
Leave to cool, then pour into sterilsed bottles to store – if you use pretty bottles it will make good Christmas presents!
Elderberry syrup should keep for ages if stored in a cool, dark place. It’s purported to be extremely good for coughs and all the other ills of winter – and it certainly lifts my spirits!
Try it drizzled over ice cream, or mixed into natural yoghurt (delicious on muesli). It tastes deep and dark and summery, and is bursting with Vitamin C.’
Thank you, mummy, for that awesome guest post!
See you tomorrow.
Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!