Monday, July 5, 2010

Elderflower Cordial

*This is copy/pasted* from my regular blog, so apologies if you've seen it before. This is a big part of my summer activities though, so it had to be reposted!*

As I wrote before, finding time to make huge batches of Elderflower Cordial is alpha omega to a good summer for me. I make a fairly strong brew that needs to be heavily diluted with water to make a refreshing drink, so 50 liters of the stuff may seem like a lot. It is. But Mikael drinks it like there's no tomorrow, I obsessively give bottles of it away as gifts, and then I still want some left over to drink as a hot toddy when winter comes. With any luck, there's a bottle or two left in February.

I don't have an exact recipe for this, but the inspiration is an old recipe from the tried and true Den Grønne Syltebog. Their recipe is for approximately 2 liters. I have tweaked the recipe numerous times through the years to find what I like best, and I do it mostly by Gefühl, so the following is really just an estimate of the measurements.

40-50 Elderflower bunches
2 tbsp citric acid powder
juice of 2 organic lemons
1 kilo organic cane sugar
1 liter boiling hot water (or more as needed)
1 tsp Atamon

Put the flowers in a big pot. Add the sugar, citric acid and lemon juice. Add the water and stir to dissolve all the sugar. Add more water if needed to cover the flowers. Add the Atamon, cover the pot and store in a cool place for 4-5 days, stirring daily. Strain through mesh bag, and store in bottles that have been thoroughly rinsed with boiling water and Atamon.

It's really that easy. It can be a bit time consuming, sticky, and not to mention one's kitchen looks like the lab of a mad scientist while bottling, but it's worth it, and once you've got the routine down pat you won't even give it a second thought.

A few notes:

-If possible, go flower picking in the morning, or no later than noon. You want dewy flowers since they have more taste than tired flowers do after a day in the sun.
- The bugs. There will be bugs. I let the flowers sit in the tub for about half an hour, after having shouted "run for your lives" to any critters down there. The ones who stay have a death wish!
-The recipe is pretty sweet, so you can easily cut a quarter of the sugar out and have a lovely end product.
-I use organic lemons, because I have a habit of leaving their squeezed corpses in the mixture for a few days. Not too long though, otherwise the taste becomes too zesty. So, if you don't have organic lemons it's ok, just don't put them in the pot.
-Atamon is an old Danish conserving product. It's liquid, the active ingredient is natrium benzoate, and it inhibits bacterial and fungal growth. So find something close to that description. If you cut it out of the recipe, the whole mixture may go yeasty on you.
-Don't go after my pictures to see if it looks right. I make at least 10 liters at a time, which means I pluck about 300 flowers at a go and use obscene amounts of the other ingredients as well.

The finished cordial should be diluted by 1:5 with cold water or seltzer, but that's really up to your individual taste. A few drops in cool white wine ain't half bad either, and fresh strawberries soaked in it taste divine too. I am, of course, planning on an Elderflower ice cream soon, as well.

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