What on earth is elderflower cordial? And what is cordial, anyway? Get the answers to these and more of your burning questions in the following article.
Cordial has multiple definitions. It may refer to an alcoholic beverage, a distilled and sweetened spirit, a liqueur, which has a dessert-like quality and is very sweet.
Cordial can also mean a syrupy nonalcoholic drink base, generally made from fruit or plants. This sense of the word “cordial” is heard more commonly in Great Britain.
Yet another meaning of cordial indicates a medicinal tonic that may be sweet and pleasant to the taste.
The sweetness and pleasantness associated with the drink cordial may contribute to the meaning of the adjective “cordial.”
However, this meaning for the cordial as a medicinal tonic was used in the past but is no longer commonly heard in present-day language.
The meaning of cordial when used in reference to elderflower cordial is primarily the second meaning, the nonalcoholic syrup made out of plants or fruit.
In the case of elderflower cordial, it is made from the elder plant, specifically the flower portion of the plant.
So what is an elderflower, anyway? The elder plant, known by its scientific name Sambucus nigra, is a speciates of flowering plants that are native to North America as well as the majority of Europe.
Other names for elder include the following: elderberry, European elder, black elder, European black elderberry, and European elderberry.
But there is much more to learn regarding elderflower cordial. Below, we will discuss its health benefits and more.
Delving Deeper into Elderflower Cordial
As was stated earlier, elderflower is the flowers from the elder plant. And the elder plant, as was mentioned before, is also known by several other names, one of which is elderberry.
If elderberry sounds more familiar to you than elderflower, you may have seen, heard of, or read the hilarious play Arsenic and Old Lace, in which elderberry wine is used as the weapon of choice by two old ladies to murder lonely young men.
Let us delve more deeply into the two distinct meanings of elderflower cordial.
As we already discovered, one meaning of elderflower cordial refers to a soft drink that is made from elderflower, sugar, and water.
This type of elderflower cordial was historically popular in the north west region of Europe, thanks to its prominent Victorian heritage. But a recipe for elderflower cordial has been discovered as far back as the Roman era.
Elderflower cordial in the present day may be found in basically all the territories that the former Roman Empire used to cover, such as England, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, and Hungary.
How to make English Elderflower Cordial
The other definition of elderflower cordial refers to what we think of when we consider other types of cordial.
In this case, elderflower cordial is defined as a sweet nonalcoholic syrup or squash that can be diluted with sparkling water, still water, or other beverages like champagne to form a flavored beverage.
When elderflower cordial is used in this sense, it is almost always diluted before drinking, as the viscosity and low flow rate of the syrup as well as the extreme sweetness would make it very difficult to drink on its own.
Elderflower pressé may also include additional ingredients such as lemons and/or more sweetener. Elderflower pressé itself may also be used as a mixer ingredient in a cocktail when added to an alcoholic beverage.
When it comes to the production of elderflower cordial, the traditional method involves collecting the flowerheads of the elder plant when they are new and fresh, that is, when the tiny flower buds have just begun to open and bloom.
If the elderflowers are harvested later than this, they will take on a bitter taste that will taint the elderflower cordial with bitterness.
The flowers of the elder are then steeped in a sugar solution which is highly concentrated. This allows the flavor of the flowers to be infused into the solution.
Is elderflower cordial alcoholic?
However, elderflower cordial can certainly be used to create alcoholic beverages. For instance, elderflower cordial (the syrup) can be diluted with champagne, gin, soda, and/or tonic to create a cocktail which is certainly alcoholic in nature.
You can, of course, dilute your elderflower cordial with nonalcoholic substances (such as still water or sparkling water), in which case the resulting elderflower beverage (also known as elderflower pressé) would not be alcoholic.
Is elderflower cordial healthy?
Elderflower cordial, when used in the traditional sense, can be considered healthy in some instances.
In fact, in Bulgaria as well as the region which was formerly known as Yugoslavia, elderflower cordial is used as traditional herbal medicine.
However, the health benefits of drinking elderflower cordial may depend on the substance one uses to dilute the elderflower cordial.
If it is diluted with an alcohol (such as champagne or gin) the alcohol content may negate some of the stated health effects of elderflower cordial.
How long does elderflower cordial last?
Homemade elderflower cordial without acid will last 3 to 4 weeks in your fridge (and much longer if frozen). Elderflower cordial with citric acid can last for 3 to 4 months in your fridge.
If Camden tablets are used, elderflower cordial may last basically forever if stored in a dark, cool location.