Thursday, 26 May 2011

Elderflower Cordial: a Very Special English Thing

I say this because in Turkey it is virtually unknown.  I would go even further to say that the whole concept of a cordial  - something to which you add water – is not familiar. Here, you  tend to have the pure fruit juice or not at all.

 the main ingredients for elderflower cordial

 Apparently the elder tree from whence the elderflowers spring is called mürver ağacı. I checked with TT about this and he was a bit dubious. Seems it’s not common. To be fair,  I have to say that I couldn’t recognise an elder tree at twenty paces myself. Realistically I don’t think this is a recipe that  I will ever make - it’s just that the ingredients are so attractive and I enjoyed watching the process. Also it is incredibly seasonal. If you want to make it, go and find your elderflowers now! They are so pretty, so floaty, so bridal.

What happened was that this past weekend in Assos, our friends the Grahams were there. Peter is the quintessential Englishman so I expect he knows elderflowers from his childhood.  I don’t because I  wasn’t there. In England, I mean. As a child. Despite this, this recipe to me is evocative of sweetsmelling summer hedgerows and all things English. Peter picked these from a tree that he spotted on the drive down from Istanbul.  He says there aren’t many. I have just seen a similar recipe in the latest BBC Good Food magazine so it is obviously something close to the English heartbeat. Anyway Elaine rang me and said would you like to come over: we're making elderflower cordial! So off I sped...
served with ice and a slice of peach - taken by elaine in şirince (pron: shi-rin-jay)
Elaine’s recipe for Elderflower Cordial
Makes a jugful or so
20 clean and insect-free heads of elderflower
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1oz/28g tartaric acid/tartarik asit:available from chemists/eczane here
1 ½ pts/0.85l boiling water
1 ½ lb/680g sugar
Measure out sugar and pour the boiling water over it. Stir.  Place the elderflowers on top and arrange the orange and lemon slices over this.  Stir well , cover and leave for 24 hours in a cool place to infuse. Strain through muslin and pour into sterilised bottles. Once open, refrigerate.

click on these pictures and they will magically get bigger

The BBC Good Food recipe (makes approx 1.5 litres)  is as follows:
Dissolve  1.8kg sugar in 1.2 litres water over a gentle heat, and bring to a simmer.  Then proceed as above. This recipe uses 2 lemons instead of 1 lemon and 1 orange. I like the latter, probably because of the colour contrast! This recipe also uses 75g citric acid instead of the tartaric.
the cordial served with meze in şirince

Dilute with sparkling water or regular still water, add ice if desired, a sprig of mint or maybe a slice of peach as in the picture, and enjoy a delightfully refreshing alternative to an alcoholic beverage or indeed just plain water.

PS Last year elderflower cordial was available at IKEA so I expect it is this year too - just in case you can't find those elderflowers!