It’s glorious weather at the moment to get outside, drag the kids and dogs with you and get picking some of those gorgeous ripe elderberries. They make the most wonderful winter cordial and with the addition of the cloves the finished drink is lovely and soothing for winter sore throats. Top the cordial up with hot water and enjoy the deep autumnal flavours.
2kg elderberry heads (this means the whole fruit spray)
25g sugar per 100ml of strained juice (add up to 50g of sugar if you like it sweeter but taste it first)
5 cloves per 100ml strained juice
- First gather the children together and hunt for elderberries in the hedgerows. Take a pair of scissors in case they are difficult to pick, then bring them back home and carry on with the recipe.
- Wash the fruit thoroughly, there’s no need to remove it from the stalks. Place the heads into a large, stainless steel saucepan (NOT aluminium). Just cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally and once the fruit starts to soften press the bunches against the side of the pan.
- Line a sieve with muslin or a tea towel and pour the fruit mixture in. You may to do this in batches. Use a wooden spoon to press the fruit against the muslin to extract as much juice as possible – this is a great one for children to do as they are much more patient than grown ups. Don’t wear light coloured clothes as the juice stains.
- Measure the liquid when you’ve finished and pour into a clean saucepan, add the sugar and cloves, bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the cloves and pour into clean, sterilized bottles with 4-5 cloves. Store in a cool, dark place. It should keep for 3 months, once you open a bottle store it in the fridge and use within a week.
To Serve: Dilute with hot water and a squeeze of lemon for a soothing winter drink or for adults it’s lovely with champagne as a winter Kir Royale. Drizzle over apples in apple crumble or pie before putting the topping on.