Summer Cordials

While Elderflower cordial is a very popular summer drink, both homemade and commercially produced, it is not the only cordial that can be made at this time of year. We made four in recent weeks.

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Undiluted cordials. From left – Pineapple Mayweed, Hawthorn, Nettle. Missing from this photo is Pine Needle Cordial.

Nettle

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I’ve eaten nettles many times in dishes such as soup and curry, and drunk them in beer and tea, but Nettle Cordial has been on my to-do list for a long time. For eating you want them young, using just the tips, but the ones I picked last week had gone to seed, and I stripped the leaves from the stems wearing thick gloves. I followed Robin Harford’s recipe on his Eat Weeds web site.

It takes a few days to steep and I was amazed at the flavour, this is straight into my list of favourites.

You can read an earlier blog post on nettles here.

Hawthorn

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It’s probably too late for this year, but one to make next May. Delicate floral scents are difficult to capture into drinks, so I followed the Wild Flower Syrup recipe in John Wright’s River Cottage Handbook – Hedgerow. I’ve used this for Dandelion Syrup in the past (also very worth trying). You layer sugar and then flowers in a jug and leave overnight. Next day you add water in proportion to the amount of sugar you used (100ml water / 55g sugar) and heat until the sugar dissolves before straining and bottling. Again, very nice.

Pine Needle
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This is an old favourite, I’ve written about before (here). You expect Toilet Duck but get a lovely citrus flavour.

Pineapple Mayweed

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This was another new cordial to me. I know Pineapple Mayweed, no points for guessing what it smells of! The recipe I found online was:

  • 1 pound pineapple weed heads
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 5 pints boiling water
  1. Wash Pineapple Mayweed thoroughly…change water a couple of times
  2. Mix everything together in a bucket
  3. Cover with lid or teatowel
  4. Leave for 4 days stiring twice a day
  5. Pour into bottles through muslin

Best diluted 1/3 cordial to 2/3 sparkling water with a few ice cubes.

I did it in a slightly different order, covering the Mayweed in warm water, leaving it to soak, straining it, then adding the sugar / lemon and heatign it to dissolve the sugar.

It wasn’t my own favourite, but soem that tried it thought it was great.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. One of the joys of late summer and early fall is walking or cycling along hedgerows and woodland edges Elder is perhaps more famous for the wine and cordial made from its frothy flowers, but its berries can also be made into wine, added whole to apple pies, or turned into tasty elderberry jelly.

    • James Feaver says:

      Hello Ainsley. Thanks for the comment. Yes, the berries too are great. A cordial or syrup made from them has been proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms. I follow a recipe that includes cloves, keep a bottle in the freezer and get it out when I have “man flu”. With hot water making up the drink it has lovely steam to inhale, tastes delicious and does make you feel better.

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