Meeting and Honoring My Elders
This is our ninth summer on the homestead, and over the years, I have perfected my classic elderflower cordial recipe that I’m thrilled to share with you today. Remember back in May we made rhubarb shrub? Well, this is a similar process of preserving the flavor and nutrition of a key ingredient, but this time we’ll use vodka instead of vinegar as the preservative.
We have a nice balance of cultivated crops and plant friends that keep arriving for the wild, seasonal harvests. Last year, Elder arrived! She seemed to love, love, love that wet, wet, wet May that brought over 6 inches of rain in four short weeks. She sprouted right out of an old fence line near the market garden. Last year I only said hello to her and watched her grow and change through the seasons.
This Year in the Elder Grove
This year, we’ve had the same wet May, and the Elder Grove is thriving. So, I thought I would make a homemade elderflower cordial using a classic recipe. Since I enjoy a St. Germain cocktail before a nice meal and the Elder just keeps calling to me, begging me to dance with her in the kitchen denying this cordial was not an option. So, dance we did!
Classic Elder Flower Cordial: Supplies
You will need to gather:
- Freshly harvested elderflowers, about 4 cups (+/-)
- 1-quart mason jar
- A fifth of vodka, middle quality
- A plastic cap for your mason jar
- A funnel for your mason jar
- Cupboard space for storage out of direct sunlight
There are affiliate links in this post. Please consider shopping for your cordial making supplies with these links. It helps me buy the chicken feed! The girls say thanks. 🐓🐓🐓
Classic Elder Flower Cordial: The Process
I am a novice herbalist and fairly well-seasoned cordial craftswomen. Because I am aware of how dangerous it is to not research your plant before harvest, I went on a fairly exhaustive informational hunt prior to harvesting the flowers. Here’s what I learned and how to proceed with a recipe for elderflower cordial:
- Make sure you have the right variety of Elder before harvesting. Here is a good resource to test your source of Elderflowers. The link will also offer a basic step-by-step process for making cordial. I actually love everything about the linked website. It’s a regular go-to blog and podcast for me.
DOWNLOAD MY GUIDE TO 10 HERBS AND FLOWERS TO FORAGE IN JUNE
It’s in the Seasonal Living Resource Library!
- Once you know your Elder variety, lore suggests taking an offering to the plant to keep her in a good mood. I took a shot of some fortified wine cordial that I had from a previous project and made a little altar for it to rest upon.
- Then, I waited until mid-morning to harvest so that most of the morning dew had evaporated from the flowers. I also chose blossoms that were completely open.
- So, this new bit of information is IMPORTANT: the stems are poison, harvest flowers only. I took my container of flowers to my kitchen workspace and looked through for any signs of green and trimmed them away so that I only had flowers in my mason jar. Boy, are they pretty and very fragrant!
- I added 4 cups of elderflowers to a quart sized mason jar and filled the jar with vodka. Then, I inverted the jar daily for about 6 weeks. When choosing a vodka for cordials, go middle of the line – not the best, but not the worst either!
- Then, I poured off the vodka from the flowers by using potato sack cloth and a strainer. Next, I filtered the liquid through a coffee filter to remove smaller particles, like pollen.
Finally, I lightly sweetened the vodka-elder flower infusion with simple syrup. This is definitely a ‘to taste’ step. I prefer my cordials on the dry side, thinking they can be sweetened more in use. Others prefer them sweeter. This step completes the process! Place your cordial in a pretty bottle. It is fine stored at room temperature, but feel free to refrigerate to have a cool additive to your afternoon summer spritzer of cordial and club soda over ice. By the way, I decided to add a vanilla bean to the final preparation, again this is just a matter of taste. Cordial making is an art, not a science!
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Stony Ridge Farm
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