JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, May 25, 2007

Elderflower syrup

This is the one you dilute with water. It keeps for ages in the fridge - I've still got a little of the last jar from last year, and it's as good as it was on day one. Some people put it into plastic bottles and freeze them, but my friend Vivien says that the nasties in the plastic leach into the liquid, so perhaps it's not such a good idea.

Whatever, this is simple to do, the sort of thing that makes you feel tremendously clever and together, when actually you haven't done very much at all. The effect has been slightly lessened by the sort you can buy in the supermarket, which really does taste like home-made, because it is home-made, but on a much much larger scale. But it's still worth doing, if only to save money (it's amazing what they charge for a bit of flavoured sugar water!).

I've been making it for years, using a recipe that's been in my manuscript recipe book for as long as I can remember, so it's in imperial measures, rather than metric. The exact quantities don't much matter, because all that sugar and the citric acid keep it all sweet (in both senses) for years.

But when you've made it, don't just limit yourself to diluting it with water to drink on a hot day ... you can use the syrup to flavour gooseberries (just coming in to season), or apricots (the first from Sicily are just appearing in the shops now), or to make a sorbet.

Elderflower syrup

25 elderflowers, stalks removed
1kg sugar
2 lemons, grated, squeezed, and cut up
50g citric acid
1 litre cold, previously boiled, water

Put all the ingredients into a bowl in a cool place for two days. Stir occasionally. Or not. Strain and bottle. Dilute to drink. Keep in the fridge.

If you're impatient (and who isn't?), there's an alternative way to do this:

Quick elderflower syrup

Stir 500g sugar into a litre of water, with the juice of two lemons. Boil for about a minute, then add 10 elderflower heads. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and leave to cool. When it's completely cold, bottle and strain.

The only reason I don't use this recipe (although I have made it in the past) is because it's a little more of a palaver.

Just make sure that the flowers are completely white - any brown and the whole batch will taste filthy (Sarah Raven says it makes it taste like cat's pee ... I wouldn't know!).


chippy and kirsty said...

Hi Joanna, I too am about to make this elderflower syrup/cordial - delicious! A friend who uses tartaric acid instead of citric says that she preferred the tartaric version she made last year when she tried both. Have you ever seen the pink/red version of elderflower plants; they are delightful and I keep meaning to get one or two. The leaves are purply pink and the flowers light pink. Kirsty

Clare said...

They don't seem to have elderflowers here in Ottawa. Jenny used to make the cordial every year in Stockholm. However, I do have a bottle of the bought variety sitting in the fridge. Very good with gin!

Joanna said...

Hi Kirsty, Hi Clare ...

I've got one of those lovely dark elder bushes here, I moved it last year (and the year before, hard to get the right spot for it because it's so dark and soaks up the light, so it didn't do well near the yew) and thought it might die, but it turns out to be tough as old boots, just like the wild one. Would you like some cuttings? I've never made syrup with it, don't know if it's so strongly scented - I'll keep you posted. I've just bought three new buckets, because all the buckets in the house looked too disgusting to use however much I cleaned them up, so I'll give the dark flowers a try. And with tartaric acid - I wish I knew more science, to know how it differs from citric acid (why should Vit C be a preservative?)

And, Clare, thanks for the tip about gin and elderflower, sounds delicious, and less of a fiddle than making elderflower wine!

Love to you both

kate m said...

Joanna I have just looked at your recipe and we are going to make it today, I realize that this blog is 2 years old but thought you might be interested.....Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, i can't tell you the chemical differences between all these acids but for orange cordial and lemon cordial, I used to use tartaric with the lemon and citric with the orange, seemed to go best that way.
Kate M

Joanna said...

Kate thanks for this ... it will be v useful next time I make syrup