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.
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.