As a child, summer always began with a trip to pick elderflowers from the Dorset hedgerows. Mum would mix the flowers with lemon, citric acid and plenty of sugar, and it was then an impatient five day wait - an eternity! - until the cordial was ready. At last, it would be time for the first taste of that sweet, refreshing drink, which would be waiting on hot days when my sisters and I returned from school or playing in the garden.
Nowadays I'm foraging my elderflowers from South London's commons, but every sip still tastes like the English countryside, sunshine and my family. Recipe below.
- 21 elderflower heads, picked with the sun on them (this is when they are most fragrant)
- 2kgs granulated sugar
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 2 pints boiling water
- 100g citric acid
- Stir all ingredients together (don't worry about the bugs that come off the flowers- they will be killed by the boiling water and, as my dad would say, it's extra protein!)
- Leave for 5 days, giving the mixture a good stir once or twice a day
- Sieve through a muslin or a tea towel
- Store in sterilised bottles and refrigerate
- Serve with fizzy water and ice