Botanical Drinks

As a horticulturist with a deep passion for growing all things edible it occurred to me that readers may like to share how easy it is to make your own cordials.

Blackcurrant Cordial

Ribes nigrum cultivars, better known as blackcurrants are very popular with gardeners and allotment holders. We have covered their pruning before and I’m sure will do again later on! My favourite cordial at this time of year is made from blackcurrants. The recipe can be adapted depending on your taste but generally the following works well:

800g blackcurrants

500g sugar

Juice of two lemons

300g water

You can use fresh or frozen blackcurrants but they do need to be boiled to release the juice. Add all the ingredients to a large pan and bring to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer on a low heat squashing berries with a wooden spoon for around 10 minutes and then allow to cool. Strain through a fine sieve or jelly bag. Bottle and keep in fridge or freeze in small batches. It really is that easy.

Elderflower Cordial

Sambuccus nigra is a native tree that gives us the aromatic elderflowers followed by black elderberries. Gardeners often grow the variety ‘Black Lace’ which has feathery black leaves and pink flowers but the ones for cordial are the white ones that grace the verges and woodlands during May. It’s a good idea not to collect them by a busy road and if they are in a garden always ask permission. The flowers are washed and dried and steeped in sugar syrup with some lime or lemon juice and citric acid. A thought for next year!

Edible Flowers and Herbs

These can be added as a garnish to your cordial along with ice and include mint, rosemary, violas, borage flowers, nasturtium and English marigold petals. You can also add some additional berries for an amazing looking and delicious tasting botanical drink. 

Alcoholic Botanical Tipples

Sloe gin, blackcurrant vodka and other variations can be made using fresh or frozen fruit and if you select a cheap spirit you can make it into something priceless with some sugar and fruit and a little patience as it needs to infuse for a few weeks!

Sparkling Water

Watching the calories? Add cucumber slices, mint or a few frozen berries to fizzy water for a refreshing alternative.

Next month : Asters (although they are not called that any more!)

Cathie’s Gardening School Services now booking for September.

1.Half a day Horticultural consultancy with Cathie identifying your plants and teaching you in your own garden maybe all you need?

2.Cathie’s Garden Army are a long established team of horticultural professionals that can help you to transform your overgrown jungle into a manageable oasis if required.

3. Professional pruning advice and guidance or we can do it for you following a consultancy.

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