Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Elderflower cordial

The children have introduced a new game to our in-car entertainment repertoire. Not one to be dragged out by us parents at the first "are we nearly there yet" to a chorus of groans. Oh no.

This game has captured their imaginations and taken over even our shortest journey. And the name of this game? "Yellow Car". 

Heard of it? I'm sure you will do.

Now, you might think a game that is so absorbing would be a winner, but let me tell you, if you're not already familiar, it absolutely is not. The premise is that every time you see a yellow car you punch/pinch the other passengers and shout "Yellow Car!". Not exactly rocket science. The problem is that we've become completely obsessed.  And there are more yellow cars on the road than you might think, leading not only to yellow cars, but also to a preponderance of purple upper arms where the bruises are...

We have ridiculous arguments about orange and gold cars. Do diggers count? (Cue "We're not playing yellow VEHICLES..." in an outraged tone). I understand that there is a variation called 'Yellow Everything', but, reflecting that every car journey would turn into some kind of out of control slap-fest due to there being yellow dandelions, buttercups and celandines adorning the roadsides, yellowing fields, yellow painted houses (Cardigan is a town of brightly coloured dwellings), I have banned it.

Yellow Car remains, though, and I find myself mentally playing the game when I'm in the car on my own, clocking where yellow cars are parked, retaining the intelligence for later in the hope of gaining the upper hand.  

Not that I'm competitive or anything. 

Last week, not only was I frantically on the look out for yellow cars, I was also keeping my eye out for elderflowers, and feeling increasingly frustrated as I either managed to miss the bushes (too pre-occupied with the cars) or didn't have anything to harvest the frothy, intoxicating flowers. Ridiculous, as it turns out we have 3 elderflower bushes in the garden.

There are many, many recipes for elderflower cordial around. I started with Sarah Raven's version in her Garden Cookbook, but made free given that I didn't have any limes (an unusual addition that I haven't seen in many other recipes) and Cardigan was all out of citric acid...

Elderflower Cordial

20-25 heads of elderflower

3 oranges
3 lemons 
1.5 kg sugar

Gently wash the elderflowers to remove any little bugs that have come home with you.

Dissolve the sugar in a large pan with 1.5 litres of water, then bring to the boil. Add the flowers to the pan, then when the water has come back up to the boil, remove the pan from the heat.

Thinly slice the oranges and lemons and put them in a large bowl, then tip the hot syrup and the elderflowers on top of the fruit, stir then cover with a tea  towel or somesuch. Leave to steep for 24 hours.

At the end of the 24 hours, strain the cordial into sterilised bottles or suitable freezing containers (it freezes very well), then enjoy. Oh, and don't discard the oranges and lemons - I've got something you can make with them...

There are many uses for elderflower cordial besides just diluting it with cold water (which is wonderfully refreshing). It tastes fabulous with gin, and is a great addition to any gooseberry dish you might be thinking of - and you should given that gooseberries are also in season.


  1. Love the 'Yellow Car' game, will definitely incorporate that into our next five hour journey! And elderflower with gin... well that's just genius! A x

    1. I don't recommend it, Annie - it's thoroughly addictive. The Husband just called me on his way between meetings and yelled 'Yellow Car at me down the phone...

  2. Margaret Dickinson3 July 2015 at 15:45

    You can save on electricity (and gin) by just adding the elderflower heads, sugar, some chopped up citrus fruit and a dash of white wine vinegar to cold water and leaving it 24 hours. Strain and bottle, then keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and you get Elderflower Champagne! I have no idea how it works, but it does. We're also on to our 2nd batch of nettle beer here too, which is almost as ridiculously easy to make and actually tastes more like a very dry Champagne than beer (it's also every bit as bubbly and strong!)

    1. I like the sound of that - will give it a go - the elderflowers are still blooming here!

  3. As I am about to embark on a 10 hr car journey tomorrow, I don't think I will be introducing "yellow car" to my two just yet! Love the cordial recipe. I think Elderflower Cordial will forever remind me of our time in Denmark now, they are mad for it there in the summer months! :D x

    1. Unfortunately it was the kids that introduced yellow car to us and now we're all obsessed... elderflower somehow sums up early summer I think. It's so fresh. I love it. Especially in gin!


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