Saturday, June 02, 2007

Summer Elixir

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 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.


C(h)ristine said...

This is amaaaazing. I love elderflower cordial, and am so excited to see a recipe posted.

Now if only I could get my hands on a recipe for elderflower liqueur... :)

Jennie said...

Hey Christine,

Thanks for stopping by! My uncle used to make Elderflower wine and spirits, but he hasn't for years. It was a pretty tedious project that required time, space and effort. And there was a fair risk that it went off in the process.

For starters, you might just want to mix a good dollop of the cordial with a sweet fruity liqueur and serve as an aperitif. It tastes great with vodka too for something stronger :-)

Thomas said...

As you have so much of this, you might want to try making some of this elderflower ice-cream - one of the nicest ice-creams I've ever tasted, especially if you use clotted cream.

singleGuyChef said...

These are so cool. I've never heard of them and am completely intrigued about the taste.

What's it like?

Jennie said...


Thanks for passing the recipe on! I will definitely give it a go, since it uses milk as well as cream, and I was afraid that a cream base would be too rich and a milk base would be too crystalline. I'm not sure I can find clotted cream here, but I'll have a look around.

Single Guy Chef,

Ah, describing a taste...a difficult task! It's quite unlike anything else, so I can hardly compare it. It tastes green if you pick the very first ones of the season and sometimes a bit musky if you pluck them in the afternoon.

They taste fresh, only as sweet as the amount of sugar you use, and they have a delicate flower taste that's not nearly as perfume-y as rose or lavender. And they go frightfully well with tangy tastes like lemon and strawberry.

I don't know where you live, but in the States I've seen Elderflower Cordial at different whole foods across the nation. And the Elder does grow in the Northern part of the US...But the flowers and berries are slightly poisonous in an unprepared state, so don't eat loads of them raw!

Nancy said...

Thanks for the recipe. I've lived here in Copenhagne fror 12 years and have never made hyldeblomstsaft - it's always been something everyone knowshow to do but me. I'm going to try it this weekend....any good sorces of the flowers around the city??

Nancy said...

Thanks for the recipe. I've lived here in Copenhagen for 12 years and have never made hyldeblomstsaft - it's always been something everyone just knows how to do but me. I'm going to try it this weekend....any good sorces of the flowers around the city??

Jennie said...

Hej Nancy,

Although I naturally cannot divulge my very own secret harvesting grounds, I can tell you that there are plenty of places in the heart of the city where you can find flowers, free from traffic and other pollution. I will say that I live on Østerbro, and have a great spot close to home.

My best bet for you would be to take a nice long walk around the grounds of Christiania, since there's plenty of nature that, again, is hidden from traffic. Another bet is Amager Fælled where I used to pluck when living close by, but it's quite a bike ride from Østerbro. Ryparken, Øster Fælled...follow your nose.

Good luck!