Cordial—essentially flavored and diluted simple syrup—is the most common way to preserve this special summer forage. Enjoy in beverages from lemonade to champagne or drizzle over huckleberry pound cake or panna cotta.
Makes 1 liter
20 medium elderflower heads (about 2 to 3 inches across)
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
4 cups water
3½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid (an optional ingredient helpful in preserving the cordial)
A 1-liter bottle and cap or cork (or enough smaller bottles to accommodate 1 liter of liquid)
Clean the flowers as described above, then drain and place them in a large bowl together with the lemon zest. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the elderflowers and zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.
Prepare bottles and caps by washing with soapy water then plunging into boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilize and allowing them to air dry. (Corks should not be washed or soaked, so purchase clean new corks from a wine-supply company.)
Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and pour into a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and sugar. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into the sterilized bottles and seal with a sterilized cap or cork. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator or freezer. Without citric acid, the cordial will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and in the freezer for 1 year. Try freezing the cordial in smaller batches for use as needed.