elderflower cordial: an idiot’s guide

DomesticTourists.pngConsidering its popularity, I’m amazed that so few people make their own elderflower cordial. It really is incredibly easy.

My guess, though, is that there are a few things at the outset which stump people, and then the whole thing becomes too much hassle. This post is an attempt to un-stump the process of making elderflower cordial – because the homemade version really is so much better than anything you can buy.

First off, you’re going to need to recognise elderflower. It’s a white flower which can be found in hedgerows, parks, by the side of the road etc during June. It’s not this:

2013-06-15 10.58.01This is cow parsley (at least, that’s the name I know it by) and it’s around in June, like elderflower.

This isn’t elderflower either:

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Nor this:

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Don’t ask me what they are, but they’re not elderflower. I know them as white flowers which bloom around the same time as elderflower, presumably just to confuse us mere mortals into not bothering to make our own elderflower cordial.

THIS is elderflower:

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And if you’re not sure, go up and give it a sniff – elderflower even smells of elderflower.

You’ll need around 20 of these white flower heads. Legend goes that you must pick them on a sunny day in order to get the best flavour. No idea whether this is true; all I can say is that I’ve always managed to pick them during a sunny few minutes squeezed into a rainy day, and the resulting flavour has always been excellent.

Anyway, once you pick them, you need to be ready to use them immediately, so now you know how to recognise them, get the other bits and bobs together first.

You’ll need some citric acid. You can get this from Lakeland, Amazon, Wilko, or some chemists – but be prepared to be looked at rather suspiciously and asked what you’re intending to use it for, as it’s (supposedly) used in the taking of heroin. For this reason (I imagine) Boots have stopped selling it. I’ve found it in Lloyds Pharmacy before.

If you want to avoid an awkward conversation, however, I’d buy it online.

It’s also helpful to have a couple of clean tea towels, one of which you don’t mind getting ruined, and a stash of plastic bottles in which to store the drink. (You can use glass, but then you won’t be able to freeze them. And elderflower freezes really well. I always make a double stash and we’re still drinking it at Christmas – although we have been known to get through a bottle in an evening before.)

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If you haven’t got any medium-sized plastic bottles (squash bottles are ideal – fizzy drink bottles are too big) then do what I usually do, and buy a multipack of bottled water. You can decant the water into something else, and then you have several bottles of perfect size for storing/freezing elderflower and you don’t even need to wash them.

The rest is plain sailing: one lemon, 1.5kg of sugar and 1.2l boiling water.

This is what you do:

Shake the elderflower leaves to get rid of any nasties. Put them in a huge saucepan/bucket/bowl, along with one sliced lemon, 1.5kg sugar and 2 tsp citric acid. Cover with 1.2l boiling water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover with a clean tea towel, put out of the way somewhere, and stir twice a day for four days.

After four days, strain the liquid. I find the best method is to line a sieve with an old, clean tea towel. I balance this over a large bowl and pour in the elderflower. It takes a while to strain this away, so go off and do something else, and just return when you can to pour in a bit more.

BUT – it is worth it, as the resulting liquid will be clear and delicious.

Then – bottle! It will keep for up to one month in the fridge, but, like I said, freezes well too. It also makes excellent presents, if you can bear to give the stuff away.

I wouldn’t know.

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mister wants a tattoo

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“Monster” by Mister, drawn this morning.

At least, I think he does.

On our way home from church this evening, we passed a man with a heavily-tattooed arm. “I want my arm to look like his arm,” said Mister.

“Ah,” I replied. “You want a tattoo?”

“No,” he insisted firmly. “I want a robot.”

Puzzled, I continued, “Er…well a tattoo is just a picture on your arm. You could have a robot tattoo.”

He didn’t seem to make the connection, but was clearly impressed by having a drawing on your arm. I didn’t feel it my place to inform him of a) the pain, b) the cost, and c) the legalities (quite a few years to go until he’s allowed one) of tattooing, but found this little exchange rather amusing.

It may come as a surprise to you to hear that I want Mister to have a tattoo also. I want him to have a tattoo of God’s words fixed so firmly into his life that he longs to please Christ more than anyone else.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

The older Mister gets, the more passionately I hope and pray for Him to know and love Jesus throughout his life. Above everything I could possibly want for him and his future, this is the prized possession, the one goal of eternal value.

Yes, I hope he does well academically – but not at the expense of craving godly wisdom and understanding.

Yes, I hope he excels at music or sport or art or something impressive – but not at the expense of understanding that God loves him even if he never ‘achieves’ anything impressive in human terms.

Yes, I hope he ends up doing a job he loves – but not at the expense of realising the perfect plan God has for him.

Yes, I hope he marries and has his own children one day – but not at the expense of forsaking his true Bridegroom (John 3:29).

Yes, I want the best for him – but I know that God’s best is the very best I could possibly pray for him.

Mister – my adored son,

The more days I spend with you, the more I so desperately want your life to reflect God’s glory. I praise God that you’ve come to know Jesus as your ‘friend’, and pray that as you grow and experience new things – good and bad – you will always know the love, protection and guidance of the One who sent His son to die for you. And I pray that, as you grow into this realisation, you will want to live more devotedly, more passionately, more distinctively as His adored son and disciple.

Love,

Mummy x