ELDERFLOWER & ROSE CORDIAL
MAKES 800ML In New Zealand, elderflower grows abundantly in spring in the South Island. Further north it can be a bit hard to find, but you can buy plants at garden centres. Old wisdom suggests you should pick the flowers on a sunny day and only pick flowers that face the sun. I’m not sure I’ve been able to taste the difference but it does make the picking nicer.
It’s best to use a rose from the garden; shop-bought ones tend to be sprayed, so aren’t good to use in cooking. And don’t worry that the infused liquid doesn’t look very appealing: when the lemon juice is added, the rose’s intense colour will return like magic. The cordial keeps in a sterilised bottle in the fridge for at least a month. 2 unwaxed lemons 100g elderflower heads (about 12 heads) 1 small red rose (see note above), petals picked 325g caster sugar 125ml lemon juice (3-4 lemons) Fill and boil the kettle. Peel the zest from the lemons in long strips. Put the elderflowers into a large bowl with the lemon peel and rose petals. Pour over 500ml of boiling water and press down the florets, making sure they’re submerged. Leave to cool, then cover the bowl and leave to infuse at room temperature for about 36 hours.
Strain the infusion into a medium saucepan, pressing the flowers with the back of a spoon, to release all the liquid, then discard the flowers, branches, peel and rose petals. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the infusion, then turn the heat to high and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is starting to simmer. Take off the heat, leave to cool, then pour into a sterilised bottle. Seal and store in the fridge for up to a month.