Friday, 5 September 2014

Elderberry Cordial Recipe

Nearly wordless, but recipe now added by special request : )

Ijust had to do a bit of foraging on our return from holiday.  A bag full of elderberries and a couple of handfuls of blackberries,

after washing and using the prongs of a fork to separate the berries

a few added spices: cloves, allspice berries, and fennel

some slow braising of the fruit in the oven until the juices ran, then into the large preserving pan,

with some sugar...loads of hot water for cleaning and sterilising and boiling up the juice again inside the bottles..we have ready our 'winter medicine'.

With the top couple of inches of so made up with Brandy, here is the finished article

Meanwhile I cracked a few hazelnuts which we also had picked..

Elderberry Cordial Recipe

Collect as many ripe, shinny elderberries as you have time for.  Collect them from hedgerows away from the road, and preferably from the edges of fields that have not had any crop spraying. Pick only the best and leave some for the birds too.

A carrier bag full is sufficient to get a few bottles.  If on the way you gather some brambles, then you can add these two.

Wash carefully, discard any dried up ones, and also green ones.  There are many ways to cook the fruit.  This time I put them all in my stainless steel roasting pan, together with my spices of choice, of which the traditional ones are just cloves, with enough boiling water to just cover.  Into the oven the lidded roasting tin sat on the top shelf at Gas No 4.  About every 20 minutes, just time to pop into the garden with my timer, and do a bit of dead heading, I used a stainless steel masher to squash through the fruit. I did this about three times.  Of course an alternative is to cook at 10lbs pressure in the pressure cooker, again with just enough water to cover, but only fill to half the depth.  You may also cook the fruit in the jamming pan for about 30 minutes or until the juices run well.

After many years of using a jelly bag, and having this brownish fabric floating around the back of my jamming cupboard, for small amounts, I just put the fruit into the sieve which is just reserved for jamming.  I let it drip for a couple of hours covered with a cloth to keep out any little flies, and finally press with the back of the soup ladle.  I feel those last little drops will have all the goodness!

Measure the juice, and the ratio I use is 600g sugar to 1 litre of juice, you can go up to 700g if you like your cordials sweetish.  This goes into the jamming pan, where it is mixed thoroughly to dissolve the sugar, and bring up to heat to just just a few bubbles for about 2 minutes.

Fill bottles immediately.  Fill without leaving too much space at the top, and top up with brandy if you wish, and a couple more cloves into each bottle.  I probably should have added even more brandy to bring the level to just 1cm below the seal.  The bottles  should have first been really well cleaned and sterilized, and at the same time you can put some extra cloves in the oven to warm.  I then put them back in the jamming pan, with the lids closed,  filled with boiling water, and let the whole lot wobble gently for about 20 minutes.

I shall invest soon in some smaller bottles as I feel the cordial is best used up quickly say three weeks, and kept in the fridge once opened.


  1. Your kitchen must have been filled with a wonderful scent whilst this. :)

  2. Noelle, as you know, I came late to this party but I managed to gather enough berries to make a couple of bottles of this delicious (and potent?) cordial! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe - next year I'll be better prepared and will begin when the berries are more abundant and I can be a little more choosy!
    I blogged about the side effects, btw ;-)