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Last week I mentioned I had collected elderflowers and made cordial.  I wanted to share pictures and the recipe.

Making the cordial is super easy and I wish I started taking pictures from the beginning.

The most confusing part of making anything with elderflowers is knowing how to process the flowers.  Elder is a poisonous wood.  The flowers are tiny.  I had a really hard time figuring out what to pick off so I picked off each and every little flower.  Later I discovered that some people just use the whole cluster which includes some very green stems.  I did figure out that if you let the flowers dry for a day or two (they will still be soft), the flowers come right off with very little work.

With that in mind, I ended up with two quart jars nearly full of flowers.  That was as far as I went with measuring the amount of flowers.  Knowing that the jars hold about 4 cups (with a little space for the top of the jar), I would say there was probably about 3.5 cups of flowers.  That’s probably more flowers than any recipe called for but I’m not going to complain.  I picked about a bag of flower clusters in a very short time and taking the flowers off the stems was easy work (especially after I left them dry).

Elderflower Recipes

This first jar, I filled with vodka and let sit for about 5 days before I strained out the flowers.  The end result is fragrant and sweet.  It’s hard not to want to drink it right out of the jar.  The vodka is a little harsh since my plan was to use this as an extract.  If you want it for drinking, I suggest using an alcohol you don’t mind drinking straight.

To make Elderflower Cordial (which is non-alcoholic), you’ll need 2 organic lemons (go with the organic, please), the jar of elderflowers, water, sugar, and citric acid.  You will also need a scale.

I should make a note that the flowers are used unwashed.  They are just too delicate to hold up to washing.  The process of both the alcohol and the cordial kill anything that will come with the flowers.  Also, knowing this, choose bushes that have not been exposed to any chemicals as best as you can.  All the elder bushes in our area grow next to roads but they are not in heavy traffic areas.

Pour your flowers into a large bowl.  Zest the lemons then slice the remaining parts into thin slices.  Add to the bowl.  Sprinkle on 50 grams of citric acid.

In a saucepan, add 1.5 liters of water and 500 grams of sugar.  Heat until the sugar is fully dissolved and the syrup is hot.  Do not bring to a boil.

Pour syrup in bowl and stir until the citric acid is completely dissolved.

Elderflower Recipes

Let sit for 24 hours on the counter.  Feel free to cover with a towel so long as it doesn’t fall into the bowl.  I think we left ours uncovered.

After 24 hours, strain.

Elderflower Recipes

Once the concoction had drained, I didn’t want to just dump the flowers and lemons.  My first thought was to rescue my organic lemons and see if I could, at least, use them in drinking water.  The lemons were well used but I did notice they were all sticky, meaning there was still plenty of syrup on them.  So I added water back to the bowl and rinsed the flowers and lemons.  Strained again and got a light sweet elderflower water.

Elderflower Recipes

This picture is of me rescuing what remained in the jar, note the yellow color of all that goodness that almost went down the drain.

Elderflower Recipes

This is our finished cordial on the left and the water on the right.  We tasted the cordial but haven’t used it yet.  The cordial is really a sweet and sour syrup with a floral, fruity flavor.  It’s something I could see just drinking shots of, it is that good.  The water, however, went fast.  We used it to make tea.  It’s not for every tea but added to chamomile for our evening tea (with a splash of honey) was so much like drinking apple cider.  It was sweet, fruity and wonderful.  I can’t express how awesome this was.  I will be playing with the cordial soon and the extract.  I’m thinking the cordial will can wonderfully so we can have it through the whole year.  Oh, the jars you see above are half gallon not quart so there’s a fair amount there.

Elderflower Cordial

1 quart jar of elderflowers (apx 3.5 cups)

2 organic lemons

50 grams citric acid

1.5 liters water

500 grams sugar

Put flowers in large bowl.  Zest the lemons then slice the remaining parts into thin slices.  Add to the bowl.  Sprinkle on citric acid.  In a saucepan, add water and sugar.  Heat until the sugar is fully dissolved and the syrup is hot.  Do not bring to a boil.  Pour syrup in bowl and stir until the citric acid is completely dissolved.  Let sit for 24 hours, then strain.  Store in refrigerator.

*A quick note – citric acid can be found in canning sections and pharmacies.  I order mine by the pound from San Francisco Herb. It’s one of those ingredients that I keep on hand for making bath products and for cooking. 

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