Cor­dially yours


Make cor­dials now to keep sum­mer in your glass all year

One way of pre­serv­ing the bounty of sum­mer fruits is to make cor­dials and fruit beers.

Igrew up in Cape Town, be­fore “sea­sonal” and “lo­cal” were “a thing”. No mat­ter the sea­son or the fruit, some­one would be able to sup­ply you with some. Now live on a farm in cen­tral Namibia, far from con­ve­nience, Woolies and ar­ti­sanal farm­ers’ mar­kets. If I want heir­loom any­thing, I should start plant­ing be­cause it cer­tainly isn’t go­ing to be avail­able at the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket.

This means that when the fruit trees and berry bushes man­age to pro­duce some­thing I have to start pre­serv­ing! A great way of pre­serv­ing th­ese fresh and fruity flavours is by mak­ing a cor­dial. Cor­dials can be en­joyed long after the sea­son has faded. For more in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion, cre­ate fizzy non-al­co­holic fruit beers.


Most cor­dial and syrup recipes spec­ify a 1:1 ra­tio of sugar to wa­ter, but I of­ten use slightly less sugar. Too much sugar will make your cor­dial cloy­ingly sweet rather than re­fresh­ing, and too lit­tle will shorten the cor­dial’s shelf life.

Tra­di­tional le­mon cor­dial

• 1,2ℓ wa­ter • 1kg white sugar • juice of 5 le­mons • zest of 3 le­mons (see “Plat­te­land says”

on the right) • 6g cream of tar­tar • 14g cit­ric acid • 7g Ep­som salt

This is how

Place the wa­ter and sugar in a large non­re­ac­tive pot. Stir the mix­ture with a wooden spoon over medium heat un­til the sugar has dis­solved. Re­move from the heat and stir in the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents.

Bot­tle the le­mon cor­dial in air­tight con­tain­ers. If stored in a cool, dry place away from di­rect sun­light, it should last up to 7 months. Re­frig­er­ate once opened. To serve Di­lute 1 part le­mon cor­dial to 5 parts ice-cold still or sparkling wa­ter. For a bit of so­phis­ti­ca­tion, add a dash of bit­ters and a few pa­per-thin slices of lime to each drink.

Plat­te­land says

Finely grated le­mon zest adds a de­light­ful tex­ture to your cor­dial, whereas larger pieces will look beau­ti­ful in the bot­tle. If you want to use wide strips of zest, make sure not to in­clude the white pith, which has a bit­ter taste.

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