There’s nothing quite so refreshing as a cold glass of lemon cordial on a hot summer’s day – which is probably why there is such a long tradition of cordial making and drinking in the Commonwealth countries. Honestly, I find it shocking that other countries aren’t so fond 😉
‘Cordial waters’ can be traced back to at least Tudor times, although they were generally considered to be primarily medicinal until the late 18th Century. A warm cup of cordial with a dash of ginger still makes a lovely tonic even today. This traditional recipe, with only 2 ingredients, is an old-fashioned favourite and simple to make. A pretty bottle of lemon cordial makes a lovely gift too. Enjoy xx
Lemon Cordial Recipe
8 large lemons
1kg raw sugar
Optional extra: citric acid
Wash glass bottles in hot soapy water, rinse clean and place in oven to sterilise. 120°C for 20 minutes will do the trick.
Put a pot of water on the stove to boil while you rinse and dry 8 lemons. It’s best to use organic, especially as the rind is used in the recipe. Grate the rind of 4 lemons and set aside.
Once the water is boiling, place all 8 lemons into the pot. Boil gently for 1 minute then remove the lemons and set them on a cutting board. Remove the pot from the heat and measure out 1 litre of the now lemon-infused water. You can discard any leftover water or better yet, use it in your homemade cleaners.
Return one litre of the lemon infused water to the pot, add in the sugar and lemon rind and bring slowly and gently to the boil over a medium heat. If you are using citric acid, add this to the water as well. Stir occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves. While you are waiting you can juice the lemons. The juice should flow freely thanks to their earlier dip in the warm water.
Once the sugar syrup has reached the boil, add in your lemon juice and stir well. As soon as the water comes back up to the boil, remove from the heat and pour directly into your hot glass bottles. Do NOT spill any sugar syrup or cordial unless you are really looking to make friends with ants…or just plain love cleaning sticky benches :-p Seal the bottles and set aside to cool.
Your lemon cordial can be stored either in the fridge or in a cool pantry. It should keep for 4 weeks. The addition of citric acid isn’t absolutely necessary, but can help with preservation and cutting the sweetness.
You could opt to use castor sugar instead of raw if you prefer. I think the flavour is richer with raw sugar, but you get a lighter coloured cordial using a white sugar. Traditional cordials are very sweet in order to naturally preserve the fruit juice, so keep this in mind when you are mixing your drinks. 1 part cordial to 7 or 8 parts water is my usual.
And that’s it. Simple, isn’t it! Now all that’s left to do is decide how to take your drink. Soda water with mint leaves takes my fancy today. Cheers!