The weather is unbelievably, unexpectedly and uncharacteristically good in Dublin this week. Not to sound ungrateful for a moment, Team Northbrook is finding it a wee bit warm and stuffy so we NEED a refreshing beverage (not beer, this time) to cool our toasty little tushes in this heat.
This calls for elderflower cordial! It’s all the rage at weddings with champagne or prosecco at the moment (you know how in-trend I am!).
*Truth be told, I’d been planning this post for a while as they just happen to be in season at the moment. This amazing sunshine is just the perfect excuse to dust off a lovely recipe.
Step 1. Finding the elderflower
The flowers bloom from mid-May to July, so mid-June is the best time for elderflower-picking. There are many elder trees around Dublin but the best place to forage is off the beaten track a little (away from the car fumes). Around Enniskerry, there are plenty of little roads, lined with them and they grow in abundance up on the Sugarloaf.
Spotting them is not always easy as there are a few very similar-looking plants about. Elderflowers themselves are delicate-looking, off-white (not bright white) and the leaves of the tree are dark green. The heads are made up of many very small flowers that open in a flat spray. If you arrive too early they may still be buds or there can be a mixture of buds and flowers on one head.
You’ll usually find them on the roadside and they’re often protected by nettles (so wellies might be a good idea). They flower as low as knee-height but most commonly just out of my reach and upwards! Bringing a scissors would be wise, the branches are not too difficult to snap but it would take the work out of it and speed up the process. Bring a bag to ensure you have a clean place to put them once removed from the tree. You want to take the full head from where it attaches on one branch but not so far back that you are taking leaves and risk doing unnecessary damage to the tree.
Step 2. Making cordial from said elderflower.
You Will Need:
- 24 Heads of Elderflower
- 2 large lemon
- 2 orange
- 1.8l of boiling water
- 1200g of sugar
- 50g of citric acid (optional)
Spend time de-stemming the elderflowers, the little green stems will be fine left on but the larger ones may spoil the taste.
Stir your sugar in the boiling water to dissolve, no need to heat. Leave to cool. Add the citric acid and stir.
Slice your orange and lemon into at least 6 parts each.
Place all of your ingredients (sugar, water, citric acid, fruit, flowers) into a bowl, stir and cover.
Leave this for about 24 hours to infuse (there’s no huge need to stir further but I can never resist the temptation every time I pass!).
Pour the bowl contents through a sieve and into a bowl/jug. You can do this a couple of times or pour through muslin to get a more refined cordial, removing any remaining flower bits or sediment.
Sterilising your Bottles
- Wash the bottles out with hot, soapy water and drain.
- Pour boiling water over the caps.
- Place in a hot oven (about 150˚) for 15 minutes to dry.
- Allow to cool in a clean, dry place.
Once you have your sieved cordial you can pour it into your bottles, ideally using a funnel.
*The cordial will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge without the use of citric acid, however will last much longer with it.
*I usually dilute it 1 part cordial to 5 parts water but it’s a personal choice –follow your heart, your tastebuds and your spidey sense to find the ideal mix for you.
Step 3. Enjoying aforementioned cordial in the garden.
The three members of Team Northbrook are lying out in the garden (on couch cushions from the sitting room since there’s no semblance of a lawn -only concrete slabs) sipping our diluted cordial on ice under some roasting hot rays.
I’d throw in a visual but it’s crazy hot, clothes have long since been removed and the internet’s simply not ready!