Monday, 8 July 2013

Summer Potions eg Dragon Medicine and Sugarless, Elderflower and Honey cordial.

Oh, I wish you could smell the honeysuckle.The scent is wafting up through the open window as I write this. I find myself stopping as I walk around the corner to the stoop on the drive. It suddenly hits me  like a wall of perfume. It takes me by surprise every single time it happens. Then in the garden the elderflower blossom is something else.

'A' came home from school early Friday afternoon. We dragged the old school ladder to the front, climbed up to gather the sweet white cherries from the tree. When we ran out of ladder he climbed onto the boughs that opened up like big old arms. 

The few strawberries I  collected got eaten for breakfast. The gooseberries aren't enough for a pie, but will make a fool. Herbs make pesto and sauces or season roast chicken or fish. Lemon balm and borage have run wild in what was once the vegetable patch, before all the trees got too big and shady to grow veg. The elderflower tree has never had so much blossom. And it's time to make cordial. Much later than usual. I just checked to see when I made it last year... the 7th of June and the 11th the year before. Almost a month. But everything is later this year. Let's hope that means we are going to have an Indian summer.

Each time I experiment a little with the recipe. Last year substituting sugar with dates and golden caster sugar for sweetness. This year with lovely golden honey. If you want to make Elderflower Cordial that tastes and looks just like shop bought, use regular white caster sugar and this recipe here. But I love the latest version made with lovely dark honey. The cordial will be a darker colour and have a subtle honey flavour...mmm...

To make Elderflower and honey cordial you will need:

  • About sixteen heads of elderflower blossom
  • One and a half litres of boiling water
  • A cup of honey
  • The zest and juice of two unwaxed lemons
  • Two glass bottles. 


  1. Shake the elderflower heads to remove any small insects that are hiding in there. Remove any woody stalks just using the flower heads.
  2. Place in a large vessel. A big glass jar is nice for this or pan. I used the honey bucket this time so I didn't waste any.
  3. Add the honey to the boiling water. Mix well and then pour over the flower heads. If using sugar it's necessary to put the boiling water in a saucepan on the hob, add the sugar and heat it until it's dissolve. Using honey this isn't really necessary as the honey soon mixes into the hot water, cutting out one step in the process. 
  4. Add the lemon zest and juice to the mixture. Stir your potion well. You may want to test the sweetness at this point. Remembering that this is a cordial and so will be used diluted. It should taste quite sweet this will depend on how sweet your honey is. 
  5. Cover the mixture and leave overnight. 
  6. The cordial should now be ready to bottle. You need to sterilise some glass bottles for this. If you have a dishwasher that will do the job perfectly otherwise wash thoroughly in hot water and then leave to dry in a warm oven.
  7. Strain the liquid pour into the sterilised bottles. Keep in the fridge until required.

It's as easy as that...Just like when you used to make magical potions. You know the kind; dragon medicine or maybe perfume. Similar ingredients, basically just flowers and water and a couple of other odds and ends. The best bit is that you don't have to wait too long before you can enjoy drinking it. 

My favourite way of drinking elderflower cordial is in a big glass diluted with tonic water, ice and lemon slice. Some people like to add gin too. Water, sparkling or still, and lemonade are good as well. 

Apparently amazing added to ice-cream, cocktails,cakes, salad dressings, with hot water as a tea substitute, or in gooseberry fool...I'll be trying that later. 

But what about you...Have you been making any magical summer potions recently?



  1. Oh, I love the smell of honeysuckle too and wish it wasn't so hot and humid so I could leave the windows open.

    I must try the elderberry cordial recipe, our elderberries are in bloom too. I never would have thought to use the blossoms. To be honest I still have berries in the feezer from last year I need to do something with; I had planned to make syrup, but never got around to it.
    How wonderful that you have a cherry tree, my husband would be thrilled, cherries are his favorite, but we are too far south for them to grow.
    Everything is coming in here about a month behind schedule. I am still picking blueberries and waiting on figs and peaches to ripen. I hope we don't have an indian summer here, I am ready for winter, such as it is here.

  2. I do not have any magical potions over here. We've eaten all the lettuce and the spinach. The basil is ready but I'm not :) Lovely photos and the food looks so fresh so summery!

  3. Oh elderflowers! I love them! Their sweet floral scent just shouts summer, and I've been enjoying loads of it in juices and cocktails hee hee lately, thoigh I've yet to make my own cordials or such yet. I pass my a huge elderflower bush each time on the way to work and am so tempted to pick, but it's growing out from someone's garden and I know I shouldn't.. annoys me that they aren't using it urgh! :(

  4. There was ice on the grass this morning! But this all looks so wonderfully summery! Enjoy.

  5. So very different from the weather here at the moment but your photos bring the memory and hope of summer to come. More pumpkin and chickpea hotpot weather here as we prepare to watch The Ashes tonight through half covered eyes. Can Australia be as bad as everyone imagines??

  6. P.S: I've finished 'All Passion Spent' and absolutely loved it. I hope for just such twilight years!

  7. Lovely post! It's such a dreamy time in the garden at the moment, isn't it? Although I'm not a fan of the heat so I'm not wishing for that Indian Summer!

    Your pesto looks great. I harvested lots of gooseberries for the first time this week so I've been busy concocting with those.

    I like to leave the elderflowers and wait for berries so I can make elderberry cordial to keep colds at bay through the winter.