It’s time to make Elderflower Cordial
(Makes 2 Litres)
November at Te Puhi farm is Elderflower time. Delicate and ephemeral elderflowers teach you the meaning of “Carpe diem” or, seize the day! The flowers take about a week to form their buds then one day they open; sometimes the bract of flowers are as large as a widespread hand, and then the next day they can be ravaged by the bees and the wind. Pick them when you see them in full creamy white bloom – don’t wait for them to turn darker and don’t pick them if their edges are brown.
This is an efficient recipe and the method saves you dealing with a lot of sticky liquid. It comes from a beautiful book by Fern Verrow – A year of recipes from a farm and its kitchen.
50 Freshly picked elderflower heads, shaken, not washed and remove the stalks
2 litres boiling water
1.5kg granulated white sugar
Snip the flower heads into a large, clean bowl. Slice two lemons, add them to the bowl and pour over the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave overnight to infuse.
The next day strain the infusion through a muslin cloth and strainer into a saucepan. Juice the remaining lemons then strain the juice into the pan and discard any pips.
Add the sugar and heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until the liquid reaches 90°C on a sugar thermometer.
Pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles and seal. It should last at least a year if stored in a cool, dark cupboard.
Elderflowers have a lot of natural yeasts on them, so sometimes the syrup ferments and fizzes. It’s really important therefore that you sterilize and keep all equipment scrupulously clean. Perfect for summer….enjoy!