Food: Elderflower cordia

We have an elder tree in our back garden and its only saving grace is its flowers at this time of year. It grows so fast that I've threatened to cut it down more than once - but someone told me once that if you cut down an elder tree you'll have very bad luck, and no one needs that so it will stay with a bit of judicious pruning every now and again. 

Currently though it's earning its keep by supplying me with plenty of elderflowers to make cordial. It's easy to make and is the perfect, refreshing summer drink. I love it with sparkling water, and a dash in a glass of prosecco is so good.

My recipe uses less sugar than most and plenty of lemons and limes and a good dose of citric acid to give it a tartness that I really like. It's not cloyingly sweet and has a nice sharp zing.

To make your own you will need:

25 elderflower heads
1.5 litres water
750g caster sugar
3 limes
4 lemons
50g citric acid - or around that amount. My packet had about 48g in and there's no point buying another pack for just 2g. I finally found some in Superdrug but it's widely available online is you're more organised.

Makes approx 2 litres of cordial


Rinse your elderflower heads by swishing them in a bowl of cold water to remove any bugs and shake them gently.

Boil the water and pour it over the sugar in a large bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Slice three lemons and two limes and add them to the syrup. Squeeze in the juice of the remaining lemon and lime. Leave to cool.

Once cold add your elderflowers and citric acid. Cover the bowl with cling film, putting the film directly over the surface of the water. Leave in the fridge for 48 hours, stirring every now and again. 

Strain through a muslin cloth and decant into clean bottles. To make it last longer I freeze it in small bags so that I can defrost it when I need it.

Dilute one part cordial with two parts sparkling water, top up with ice and slices of lemon and lime.