The flowers of the elder tree have an amazing, flowery and fruity aroma. Made into a syrup, it can be used to give ordinary baking a fresh and elegant touch.
Pour a little of this syrup in a flute of fizzy wine to make an elegant elderflower cocktail, generously pour it over a simple sponge cake to make an elderflower syrup cake, drizzle it over waffles or pancakes or use it as a simple syrup in layered cakes. The possibilities are endless!
- 25 elderflower heads
- ¾ lemon, scrubbed clean.
- 2 liters (about 8½ cups) warm water (bathwater temperature)
- 2500g (or 12½ cups) granulated sugar
- bottles with screw tops
- Shake the elderflower heads to get rid of any bugs. Place a large bowl or pan on a scale and, using a pair of scissors and holding the elderflower heads upside down over the bowl, snip the flowers off. It’s okay if you leave the smaller stems on, just try to keep the bigger ones out of the bowl, as they will give the cordial an unpleasant ‘stemey’ flavor.
- Cut the lemon in slices and throw these into the bowl on top of the elderflowers. Pour the warm water over the flowers and lemon. The flowers might turn brown once they get in touch with the warm water, but this won’t affect the flavor of the cordial. Leave to cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave to steep for 24 hours. Some recipes advise you to steep the flowers for up to three days, but after some experimentation I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t make much of a difference.
- Sterilize bottles and screw tops by placing them in a large pan filled with water (make sure the bottles don’t have any air left in them) and bringing the water up to the boil. Leave to boil gently for ten minutes, turn the heat off and leave the bottles and tops in the hot water until ready to fill.
- Strain the elderflower water by pouring the contents of the bowl through a clean (!) tea towel into a measuring jug (if you want to be precise about it) or right into a big pan. You should now have a tea towel full of flowers and lemon slices and a pan (or jug) with 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of clear elderflower water.
- Add the sugar to the elderflower water and heat over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil, turn the heat off, fish the sterilized bottles and tops out of the hot water and carefully pour the syrup into the bottles, all the way up to the brim. Screw the tops on (wear oven mitts! The bottles are hot!) and leave the bottles to cool upside down on the countertop.
- Store in a cool and dry place. A sealed bottle will keep for up to a year, an opened bottle will keep in the fridge for a couple of months.