Elderflowers make a wonderful fragrant cordial that you can add soda water to for a refreshing summer drink, splash into fruit salads or or add to wine, prosecco or champagne for a stylish cocktail.
In countries such as the UK, elder trees can be found everywhere in hedgerows, scrub, and woodlands but without that option here in Auckland I had to plant one in my garden. At the beginning of summer I regularly rushed out to see whether it would flower this season and whether I would have enough flowers to try making elderflower cordial. Thankfully I did.
The sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers are best gathered on a warm, dry morning just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. The flowers can develop a slightly unpleasant aroma by the afternoon, or when they are past their best. It can be quite a challenge with a single new tree to get enough flowers that are all ready at the right time to make your cordial. I learned the hard way that the flowers do not freeze well, turning a nasty brown colour. I was also a bit concerned that I couldn’t really smell the flowers when I picked them but I left them in a bag for an hour or so until I was ready to make the cordial and could certainly smell them then. And towards the end of the infusion, the smell was glorious.
~15 large elderflower heads
2 lemons sliced
¼ cup citric acid
2.5 litres water
5 cups sugar