Aunty Anne was a Mary Berry for British Gas. Early on in her career she would do gas demonstrations and teach people how to get the best out of their new oven. She was fastidious when it came to manners, tidyness and she was an incredible cook. Everything was home made and her year was mapped out by the seasons and what flowers, fruits and vegetables were in season. After she retired she became a volunteer for The National Trust and one Christmas she gave me a book on home made presents. Often the case with our cooksbooks, just a handful of favourite recipes are used. I love the very simple recipe for Elderflower cordial. There is a bit of Aunty Anne in me and I hate to see the elderflowers go over and turn into berries before I’ve had a chance to make the cordial. It is incredibly easy to do and tastes so much better than shop bought. In the 21st century it’s a little harder to find citric acid, I used to bulk by mine, but now head down to Boots to buy just enough (40g).
On a warm dry day, take a bag and some scissors for a walk (our cotton net bags are perfect , the holes allow any critters to escape before it’s too late). Snip elderflower heads into the bag and collect about fifteen. The best are those with no brown flowers where all the buds have opened.
40g citric acid
15 elderflower heads
2 lemons sliced
The recipe is easy, you need 900ml of water, a kilo of sugar (I use brown caster or granulated, it gives the cordial a lovely rich colour). In a large pan or bowl add the sugar to just boiled water until it is dissolved completely then add the citric acid. Snip the flowers from the green stalks of the elderflower heads and mix them in, then add sliced lemons. Leave the mixture for a few days, stir it occasionally. The juice needs to be strained through a muslin before it is bottled. If the cordial isn’t drunk immediately, I like to put some in a plastic bottle and freeze and bring it out in autumn as a little reminder of summer.