Monday, 27 June 2016

elderflower cordial










The end of term has sneaked up on me very suddenly. I had not thought about saying good bye to current teachers until it was almost too late. James's teacher was fantastic, she has supported him really well and his self confidence is greatly improved. I didn't warm to Alistair's teacher quite as much, I felt a bit inadequate whenever I spoke to her but I suppose Alistair, too has made progress and has enjoyed the year.

If you have been visiting here for a while, your probably know that I don't like to buy teacher's presents, not because I don't like giving but I don't like to buy generic gifts and it is difficult to find something special for somebody whom you don't really know. I have a few small gifts I like to make and I rotate these in random order. With four kids, chances are high that some teachers will get the same present more than once but I do believe I make something nice or useful or both and I know I would appreciate it myself.  My favourites are elderflower cordial, Christmas cookies, jam/jelly, soap or candles. It being June, it has to be the elderflower cordial. I always make some for ourselves anyway and it is no extra effort.

For myself I use the empty pink lemonade bottles you can buy in Waitrose (not empty of course) but for presents I prefer smaller bottles. This year I volunteered Richard to drink a few bottles of beer, a challenge he gracefully accepted. I spent some time looking at the different beers, not because tried to remember his favourites but because I wanted bottles that look nice and have a label that would peel of easily. I opted for Doom Bar beer because the bottles are white glass and the labels were plasticky and seemed easy to peel of off. I tried on a corner. They are also as close as we'll get to Cornwall this summer. I have a gadget to close bottles with crown corks, which comes in handy.

It was bucketing with rain when I went to pick flowers and not even the dog wanted to join me on a walk. I had a lovely walk along the canal, carefully picked the nicest flowerheads, no more than one or two per plant. I was soaked to the bone but happy.

Here is my recipe. There are many different ones and I am sure they all produce an excellent cordial. If you never made cordial, this is as simple as it gets.

Rinse the flowerhead and trim the stems, place them in a pan and pour cold water over the flowers. I would say about one litre of water for 8 to 10 large flowerheads. Put a lid on and let the flowers sit for about 24 to 48 hours. My trusted Swiss home economics recipe book suggests to leave this on a sunny windowsill but the sun does not always shine and it is ok to just leave it on the work top. After 24 to 48 hours strain the infusion through a muslin and measure the the amount you have. Weigh out sugar and citric acid. For each litre I use 750 g to 1 kg of sugar, it depends how sweet you like it and how long you want to keep it. I use 20 grams of citric acid per litre of infusion. I don't use lemons but feel free to add lemon juice if you like (maybe reduce the citric acid if you do). Slowly dissolve the sugar on a low heat, then bring the syrup to the boil. Turn the heat off and add the citric acid. Stay back, it foams up quite violently for a few seconds. Lastly, give the cordial a good stir fill it into clean preferably sterile bottles. It keeps for a long time. We just finished the the last bottle of the 2015 cordial and it still tasted the same. It is a little darker maybe but the taste was excellent.

I made two bottles for us and I was going to add some to a glass of Prosecco. I never quite got around it but there will be other opportunities.

I won't have time to make more and when I get back from my holidays, the elder blossom will be finished. I am going to check out recipes for rhubarb cordial instead, CJ showed photos of the most beautifully rhubarb red cordial ever on her blog and I can't stop thinking of making my own. There is still lots of rhubarb in the garden and I am going to freeze some for when I come back.

I'll be on a plane to Switzerland when you are reading this. I'll be sure to give you an update from our holidays when I have a moment. Wishing you a lovely week. x




24 comments:

  1. I'm sure the teachers will love their gifts. Enjoy your holiday.

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  2. Lovely gift. I'm waiting for the next sunny day in Ulster to make mine - partly because I'm a loose but also because I like the slightly stronger flavour. I've experimented with several rhubarb cordial recipes and the absolutely best flavour by a mile was from this recipe using raw juice - we go into production with the juicer and the kitchen smells brilliant.
    http://jennyeatwellsrhubarbginger.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/making-rhubarb-cordial.html
    Look forward to hear your rhubarb story and trust the other half will be employed in beer bottle emptying duties again. Onerous task....

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  3. Typo alert... I'm not loose... Just a woose. (Prefer to be dry than morally questionable!)

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  4. I fancied the rhubarb cordial too. Great idea to use beer bottles, I must get my son-in-laws to help me out with that one. Have a great break away, it has been some years since I went to Switzerland.

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  5. Have a great trip. My daughter was just in Switzerland (Geneva) for work - her very first trip to Europe and loved every minute.

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  6. How lovely to make homemade gifts for your children's teachers. Enjoy your hols x

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  7. As a former teacher I'll tell you that I would have loved a bottle or two of your cordial as a gift.

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  8. I feel the same way about teacher gifts. Here, it's usually a collection of cash handed over in an envelope. It really isn't my thing at all so I typically make a gift, or at least look for something small but personal to buy. I have never tasted real elderflower cordial, only the kind you mix up from concentrate syrup, but I would love to try it sometime. Thanks for sharing how you made it. Have a wonderful time in Switzerland.

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  9. Your children's teachers are blessed to receive your gifts...or at least I would feel that way! I still have no experience with real cordials, but want to try making some...like CJ's rhubarb or perhaps strawberry rhubarb. Thanks for sharing your instructions, Christina. Wishing you and yours safe and happy travels! xx

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  10. Have a lovely holiday! I've made elderflower gin. Hic!
    Leanne xx

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  11. Lovely gifts, no doubt they will be very well received. It was good of Richard to empty the bottles for you. I hope you get round to making the rhubarb cordial, it's worth doing for the colour alone! Hope you all have a wonderful time in Switzerland. CJ xx

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  12. Because I can't really walk very far still, I have missed the elderflowers this year but I am planning rhubarb cordial making this week. I would have loved presents like that when I was teaching!

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  13. What a thoughtful gift. Enjoy your holiday :)

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  14. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I made some last year and it was not a success. I'm not sure what I did wrong... I might try again and follow your instructions :-) Have a wonderful holiday. Sam x

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  15. I still haven't made my cordial yet but this morning I have a window of opportunity to pick and infuse so must get going, I use 500ml green plastic fizzy water bottles for my cordial because then I can freeze it, although I'm going to investigate your corking gadget. This weekend I made lemon verbena syrup to add to home-made mojitos - oh my it was so good and I can see it working with fizzy water or fizzy wine too. Have a great holiday Christina.

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  16. Every year I mean to make elderflower cordial and every year I don't get round to it. Maybe this will be the year!

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  17. Lucky teachers! I'm considering making elderflower gin. Well, when a recipe starts with the instruction, 'Drink some of the gin'...... Have a lovely holiday.

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  18. Your gift is lovely. Hope you have a wonderful trip!
    Meredith

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  19. A lovely gift! If I were a teacher I would love something handmade! Enjoy your time in Switzerland. xx

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  20. Happy holidays. When I was a teacher I would have loved one of those! Jo x

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  21. Hi Christina, I followed your recipe and it is much much nicer (and easier) than Sarah Raven's which I usually follow. I also re-purposed two glass Fentiman's lemonade bottles, again much nicer than my usual plastic bottles. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. I am glad the recipe works well for you Sarah. I have also used the same recipe for lime flower cordial, which is dedicate and lovely. x

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  22. I would love to teach your kids! Happy Holidays!
    Wren x

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  23. Happy Holidays! Have a great time x

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx