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Gooseberry and Elderflower Cordial

Makes about 1.5 litres.

Ingredients

  • 10 –12 freshly picked heads of elderflower or more if you pick smaller florets
  • 600 g 1lb 5oz granulated sugar
  • 600 ml 20fl oz water
  • 250 g 9oz green gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 2 unwaxed lemons or 1 unwaxed lemon and 20g (¾oz) (maybe less) citric acid
  • soda or sparkling water to serve

Instructions

  • Pick over the elderflower heads, trimming the flowers away from the stalk and shaking out any insects.
  • Put the sugar in a large saucepan and add the measured water. Heat over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and add the gooseberries.
  • Simmer for 7–8 minutes, then take off the heat.
  • While the gooseberries are simmering, finely pare the rind of the lemon(s) and slice the flesh. Swirl the elderflowers gently in a bowl of cold water.
  • Remove the elderflowers from the water and add to the sugar syrup along with the lemon rind and slices and the citric acid, if using. Stir, lightly cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool place overnight.
  • Strain the cordial through a fine sieve into a wide-necked jug or bowl. Pour the cordial through a funnel into 2 x 75cl) sterilized glass bottles and seal. Store in the refrigerator and consume within a month. You can also freeze the cordial in plastic bottles, though remember to leave some headspace to allow the liquid to expand.
  • To serve, dilute to taste with soda or sparkling water.

Notes

Note: using citric acid will increase the shelf life. Tip from Fiona: "You can make the cordial without citric acid if you’re not intending to keep it for long, but don’t overdo the lemon, otherwise it will just taste like lemonade."