We have a black elder growing in our garden (Sambucus Nigra) planted, I suppose, four years ago. Last year was the first that I picked the flowers and made elderflower cordial with them; as well as making cordial with the usual white elderflowers. There isn't really anything black about our black elder. The leaves are deep purple and the flowers are a gorgeous pink.
As the tree is still very young we only get enough flowers to make one batch of cordial. I was really hoping, last year, that the cordial would be pink (even just a tiny bit) and I was so pleased that it was very definitely, unmistakenly, pink.
This weekend I made cordial with another batch of white elderflowers (picked along a very little used back road nearby) and also with our own pink elderflowers.
Making elderflower cordial is actually very easy.
I used separate food grade buckets for the two types of flowers.
In each bucket I dissolved 1kg of granulated sugar in 1.7l of boiling water. Adding citric acid improves the keeping qualities of the cordial so I always like to add a 50g packet to each batch.
The pink flowers immediately started to turn the syrup solution pink. The photo shows it just starting to develop the colour but by the time I was ready to bottle the cordial it was much deeper.
I roughly peeled four large lemons and two limes, then sliced them and divided between the two buckets. My lemons were very big so I only used two plus a lime for each bucket. Otherwise I would have used either three lemons and a lime or four lemons per bucket. Then I covered the buckets and left for about 36 hours (you need to leave for at least 24 hours but no more than 48).
Bottling the cordial doesn't take long at all. First of all the cordial needs to be strained. I used double muslin over a jug to do this, carefully pouring the liquid from the bucket into the muslin strainer and leaving most of the flower heads and fruit in the bucket. It ran through the muslin very quickly and was then ready to bottle.
I bottled the remaining pink cordial and all of the white (clear) cordial in glass bottles. Glass bottles need to be sterilised first. I did this by putting them in the Aga's simmering oven for 10 minutes. You can do the same in any oven using a temperature of about 180ºC (375ºF).
I'm so pleased that we'll be able to have the pink elderflower cordial again this Christmas. It was very much appreciated last year - especially by me! I wish I could give you all a sample but you'll just have to believe me that it is very delicious indeed.