Well, with all the rain that has arrived in recent weeks, it might not feel exactly like summer, but it’s true - spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner, now. We’re hoping for long, hot days in the garden, picnics at the beach, and plenty of juicy fruit delights, such as strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants. If the thought of sun-filled days spent in the great outdoors fills you with joy, read on to discover some great recipe ideas for thirst-quenching drinks that you can make at home.
It seems that elderflowers are flowering very late this year, which means that in most parts of the country, you should still have time to gather some of these fragrant, frothy-white flowers to turn into magnificent elderflower cordial. Here’s our go-to recipe for the most sensational elderflower cordial you’ve ever tasted.
20 heads of elderflowers
600 gms caster sugar
5 tbsps clear honey
Rinse the elderflower heads carefully, ensuring that any bugs and debris are removed.
In a large pan, add the honey and sugar to 1 litre of water, and bring to the boil gently, until all the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and set aside.
Zest one of the lemons into the pan and squeeze the juice in also.
Slice the other lemon and add the slices to the pan.
Add all of the elderflower heads to the pan, flowers first, so that the heads are fully under the liquid.
Pop a lid on the pan and leave for 24 hours or so.
The next day, strain the elderflower cordial through some muslin into a jug or bowl and then pour into some clean, sterilised glass bottles. Swing-top bottles are ideal for cordials, as they really add to the vintage charm of making a good old-fashioned drink like this.
Whilst we’ve all probably tasted elderflower cordial at some point in our lives, strawberry cordial is a delight known to far fewer people. Yet it’s so incredibly tasty and so easy to make that it’s surprising that it isn’t more popular. Here’s the recipe:
600 gms fresh British strawberries
800 gms caster sugar
45gms citric acid
Wash and halve the strawberries and place them in a large pan or bowl, with the lemon, caster sugar and citric acid.
Add 600ml of boiling water and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Cover with a lid and pop the mixture into the fridge for 3-4 days until the mixture tastes strong enough.
Strain into a jug through a piece of muslin or a jam sieve and then decant into swing-top bottles.
This cordial will keep in the fridge for 4-5 months. Serve it with still or sparkling mineral water, or go all out by adding it to a glass of chilled Prosecco.
Rhubarb is another fruit that seems to be mostly used just for crumbles, despite its potential in all sorts of things, from jams to relishes and ice cream to summer drinks. Here’s our recipe for rhubarb cordial - with just a little ginger kick!
500 gms rhubarb, washed and chopped
320 gms caster sugar
2cm piece of root ginger, peeled
Put the sugar into a large saucepan with 350ml water and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rhubarb, ginger and the zest and juice of both the orange and lemon.
Heat on a medium setting until the rhubarb starts to fall apart. Strain the mixture through a jam sieve or a sieve lined with a muslin cloth into a jug and then decant into clean, sterilised glass bottles.
Label and store in the fridge for up to a month.
Again, this delicious cordial is perfect with still or sparkling mineral water and you can also use a splash to add a unique taste to a refreshing gin and tonic, for example.
We hope that these ideas have piqued your interest and we would be delighted if you were inspired to create some of these drinks, or to have a go at making your own flavours, experimenting as you go. If you grow mint in your garden, for example, why not have a go at making your own mint cordial? Mint also works really well with gooseberries, to make a sensational mint and gooseberry cordial.
Other ideas include blackcurrant cordial, rosehip cordial or even carrot cordial, if you’re looking for a way to use up a glut of carrots. With this cordial, you can even use up the strained carrot pieces in a carrot cake, to go with your cordial!
As always, we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to share your own cordial ideas for the summer months. Whether you jazz up your elderflower cordial with vanilla or some other flavoursome ingredient, or you have a totally unique recipe for a fruit you’d not readily think of, we’d love to hear about it, via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.