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#PinstripesChallenge: Elderflower Cordial

This week, our #PinstripesChallenge comes via Pinstripes & Peonies’ Founder, Director and Boss-man, Ruari McCulloch. Having worked as a chef before seeing the flowery light, this is a perfect combo of his skills, and you know it’s going to be delicious! Over to Ruari…

“Many of our competitors torture flowers on a regular basis while calling themselves florists...Here at Pinstripes, we like to over-deliver at all times so, in honour of Chelsea Flower Show Week, here is a tasty little flower torture recipe....”

What You Will Need:

  • 1 kg caster sugar

  • 3 x Unwaxed lemons

  • 1 x unwaxed orange

  • 1.5l water

  • 1tsp citric acid (optional)

  • A clean cloth/tea towel

  • Large-ish Saucepan (approx. 3l)

  • Muslim cloth, old t-shirt, tights or something similar to strain through

  • Clean empty bottles for storing

  • 1 x bottle Champagne (unrelated to making cordial but we feel it’s a Chelsea Flower Show week lockdown essential!)

Step One: The Foraging

First, find yourself an elderflower bush. Pick 25 decent, bug-free (ish) heads. Fragrant flowers will make a fragrant cordial! It’s relatively easy to identify the elderflower bush/ tree because of its delicate white florals and alluring scent. Pictures below to help but here is also a guide from Country File with further guidance.

Step Two: Prep

Check your flowers for critters, bugs & despairing florists. Give them a gentle shake to remove. Cut them down into smaller stems that will fit into your mixing bowl. Next zest your lemons and oranges so they are finely grated (then keep these to the side because we’ll need the juice later!)

Step Three: Time To Combine

Put your flowers in a large bowl with the zest of the orange and lemons. Pour 1.5l of boiling water into the bowl over the elderflowers and zest. (If you’re feeling fancy and REALLY hate flowers, add 3 heads of fragrant red rose petals before pouring over the boiling water for a beautiful, rose-tinted cordial).

Give it a stir, and take in that heavenly smell.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth/ tea towel and leave to infuse overnight (this doesn’t have to be in the fridge, just a cool spot on the worktop is fine).

Step Four: The Next Day

Grab your large-ish saucepan and line it with your muslin cloth (or whichever alternative you are using). Pour in your infused mixture of elderflowers and zest into the cloth and strain.

Top Tip from Ruari: Once you’ve poured everything in, give it a squeeze like it’s the throat of a Wotsit coloured President.

Once strained, compost the zest and flowers.

Step Five: Sugar, Sugar

Add 1kg of sugar to the liquid (sounds like a lot but all the best things are full of sugar, eh?). Add the juice of the lemons and the orange to the pan and an (optional) 1tsp of citric acid. (Optional because who has this in their kitchen already?!.... Ruari).

Place the pan on the hob and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Step Six: Et Voila!

Allow the liquid to cool then pour into clean bottles.

Open champagne and drink in excess.

Top Tip: Store it in the fridge (or Ruari warns it can explode…) and use within one month.

Enjoy in a glass of fizz, a cheeky gin, or dilute with soda water and a sprig of mint or dash of lemon.

Love and flower power,

Pinstripes and Peonies

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