Elderflower cordial is British summer in a glass. It can also be used in creamy summer desserts like fools and syllabubs.
1kg/2lb 4oz caster sugar
2 unwaxed organic lemons, halved, plus strip of peel
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds reserved
1 tbsp citric acid powder or vitamin C powder
about 40 fresh elderflowers, shaken free of bugs, lightly rinsed
Fill a large pan with 2 litres water. Add the sugar, lemons, vanilla pod and powder, and bring slowly to the boil. Boil rapidly until the mixture has reduced by half, then remove from the heat.
Add the elderflowers to the pan and stir gently. Leave to cool completely, then pass through a sieve lined with muslin into another clean pan. Whisk in the vanilla seeds and store the cordial in sterilised bottles with a strip of peel and the vanilla pod added (see Top tips, right). To make a refreshing drink, use 1 part cordial to 5 parts iced water.