I don’t know what the groundhog said this year but spring is coming, I can feel it! This elderflower cordial recipe is brought to you by the generosity of one of Dave’s producers.
One of the benefits of living with a chef is that people want him to try their new items. Last spring I came home to an amazing citrus smell I couldn’t pinpoint. I’ve never had elderflower but quickly learned it’s a flower of a tree used to make wine and cordial – which is perfect for elderflower cordial cocktails!
We’re not huge fans of cocktails but this elderflower cordial recipe is amazing with a bit of vodka and cranberry juice or just soda it’s also fantastic in a Moscow Mule. For a non-alcoholic treat you can add elderflower cordial to sparkling water.
What is a cordial anyway?
Everything is new again and while the word cordial make me think of lazy days in Savannah, Georgia (despite never having visited) it’s actually found around the world.
However, cordial doesn’t have the same meaning everywhere in the world. In the US it’s an alcoholic syrup, often a liquer. However in Europe and other regions of the world it’s a simple syrup and is non-alcoholic. Our elderflower cordial is of the European kind but being North American our first thought was to add vodka and cranberry to it.
The History of Elderflower Cordial
Elderflower cordial can be traced back to the Romans and it has been very popular in Victorian times. Now it’s a specialty drink but is very popular in Austria, Germany, Hungary and Romania. In many cases it’s been used as herbal medicine.
Where to Find Elderflowers
As it’s the flower of an elder tree the blossom season begins in May and can run through July. The smell is almost like a honey blossom and it’s important to get them young and freshly picked when they are the most fragrant as they will turn bitter, just like their leaves. If you’re out spring foraging look for elderflowers that are neither green nor brown. Make sure you smell them, if they smell bitter like the leaves you are sure to have a bitter cordial.
You can find elderflower cordial in specialty stores, make sure to read the bottle as there are many mass producers who use elderflower “flavouring” which is cheaper and not as good. However, it’s really easy to make at home and because of the high sugar content it keeps for a very long time.
The cordial is made by steeping the elderflower heads in a concentrated sugar solution so the flavour is infused into the syrup.
Elderflower Cordial Recipe
- 6 cups water
- 1 kg sugar
- 3 lemons, sliced
- 100g elderflower
- Gently rinse the elderflowers to remove any dirt, leaves or impurities.
- Bring water to a boil, add sugar and allow to cool.
- In large container add water, top with lemon slices then elderflower.
- Cover and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.
- The next day strain and add to sterilized jars.
You can mix elderflower cordial with sparkling wine and add mint for a bright twist on a mimosa, it’s also a nice addition to a white wine spritzer. If you’re more interesting in spirits elderflower cordial is a great addition to whiskey, bourbon and bitters. Maybe it’s too soon to announce that spring is around the corner but this drink reminds me that warmer times are coming.