Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elderberry Cordial--The Fatigue Destroyer!

The elderflowers have gone, ripening into little black berries.

Some internet research has revealed that the tree in MB's garden is a Blue Elder, distinctive for the dusty bloom on each little berry.  I have been wanting to make a cordial with the berries since we gave MB the tree two summers ago.  It sounds so old-fashioned, like something Anne would intoxicate Diana with, and also healthy--this past winter, I drank a few drops of Neal's Yards Remedies Echinacea and Elderflower tincture every night to ward off H1N1 and other sicknesses.

After preserving the peaches, we had quite a bit of leftover sugar syrup (hopefully you won't!  I adjusted the recipe after our trials), so, I figured the time had come to make my own elderberry cordial.  There are many recipes to be found for elderberries--wines, syrups, cordials.  All involve sugar and elderberries, some involve alcohol as a preservative.  Google Books has many nineteenth and twentieth century cook books, and all text searchable.  With so many varieties of recipes, I was not sure which to choose.

In The Art and Mystery of Making British Wines &c of 1865, the author offers three recipes for Elderberry wine, the third method seemed the best.

Admired by the best judges of wine!  But I don't really want to make wine, so elderberry syrup it would be.

A quick search of more recent recipes revealed that the basics have not changed much since Sir Thomas Browne set out to debunk the myth that elderberries were poisonous in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica or, Enquiries into very many received tenents, and commonly presumed truths.

Ok, here's just one last old recipe (I can't help myself!  I am a historian after all).
From Mary Kettlilby's A Collection of above three hundred receipts in cookery, physick, and surgery: for the use of all good wives, tender mothers, and careful nurses from 1734. 

Good-wife and careful nurse that I am, I want to have my elderberry cordial on hand for all cases of the gout (caused by my cooking I have no doubt).

So, as I was saying, elderberry cordial is some combination of elderberries, sugar and alcohol (either added or created by fermentation).  Here's my recipe.

Elderberry cordial
Makes approximately 2 quarts
Takes 1 hour

10 cups elderberries, carefully removed from stems and rinsed
2 cups sugar syrup (or 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water)
4 cups best quality brandy (I don't really know what that is--I used Paul Masson Brandy)

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, cook elderberries for 20 minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth to squeeze out all juices.  Should yield 2 cups of elderberry juice.  Bring to a simmer with sugar syrup or the sugar and water (if sugar and water, cook until slightly reduced, 10 minutes).  When cool add brandy.  Store in clean bottles.

For vim and vigour, drink 2 ounces dissolved in one glass water each night daily.  Also good with gin, or on its own over ice.

Update: Over Christmas, we drank the elderberry cordial with champagne.  Delicious! (HiH) 

1 comment:

  1. amazing! I just love st. germain with fizzy water and a lemon, so this is just my style. It reminds me a lot of when we used to drink Lillet and soda all the time when we lived on 2nd St. Love the Anne of Green Gables reference!