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  • Writer's pictureMerrow Savouries

Summer’s Elderflower Cordial


Mid May into late June sees our local hedgerows awash with the beautiful and prolific white flower of the elder tree – elderflowers!


The flowers are so pretty, and smell wonderful, made up of tiny fragile looking white petals.

Cut them with long stems and place in water in big cottage style or enamel jugs. Pure English Summer. The flowers, also of course, make the iconic and delicious ‘posh squash’ -  Elderflower Cordial. 

Here is how we make it, lots of it, every year!


Firstly, you need a warm, dry, sunny morning when the heady floral smell is at its peak; with some of the flowers still just in bud, some are fully out. 


If you pick them on a drab and wet morning – they will smell of drab and wet – so choose a lovely morning – when they, in turn, smell lovely!


Gently pick about 25 flower heads or ‘saucers’ as close as you can to the flower itself – you don’t want the stalk or leaves for cordial.


As you continue picking, keep the flower heads upright in a large bag or trug, as you do not want the sweet-smelling pollen of the flower to fall off.


Gently, but thoroughly ‘pick them over’ to remove any creepy crawlies.  You should not shake them too vigorously or wash them, as again it would remove the pollen – and you want that – but not the critters!


Place the clean flower heads into a very large bowl.


Peel 4 large unwaxed lemons (or 3 lemons and one orange) and put the peel onto the flowers.

Slice the rest of the lemons (and orange, if used) and add them to the flowers.


Boil 1 litre of water with 500g of white sugar until it is dissolved.


Carefully pour the boiling sugar water over the flowers and fresh fruit & cover with a cloth.


Leave for 24 hours to cool and infuse.


The added bonus is that the lovely floral summer smell drifting from your kitchen will fill the house.


Once cool, strain the liquid through a clean tea towel, muslin or very fine sieve, several times, until you are left with a clearish pale honey colour nectar. Discard the soggy flowers and fruit peel.


Using a funnel pour into clean sterile glass bottles or jars. Put on the lid or screwcap.


Done! So simple and so enjoyable to make (and pick).


Add to cold sparkling water for a sublime fresh summer drink. Or put small slices of fresh orange or lemon into ice cube trays. Add water and freeze.  Fill glasses with the flavoured fun cubes and add the cordial to taste with still or sparkling cold water. 


Or add a splash to cold lemonade if you like a sweet drink.  Pour a little neat over summer fruits or ice cream or Greek yogurt.  Or why not add a splash to a gin or vodka and tonic.


Then, the next sunny day, make it again, to your own taste – perhaps with less or more sugar or just lemons or half lemons/half oranges until you get your own take on this summer in a glass.



Sue and Tom

Merrow Savouries


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