It’s the time of year when lemons arrive on the doorstep. Those lucky people with lemon trees in their yard find themselves with a glut and suddenly get generous, offering their crop to anyone who’s willing to relieve them of their bounty. It’s a tradition that I wholeheartedly support, having never had a tree, I rely on others’ citrus abundance to kick off the start of my spring. And what better way to celebrate finer weather, and use up a bunch of lemons, than with a refreshing glass of cordial.
This lemon cordial recipe is a traditional English one, unearthed by MoVida chef and co-owner Frank Camorra. It has two ingredients: sugar and lemons. Lemons can sometimes be frugal with their juice. This recipe heats them in a pot of boiling water, which coaxes as much juice out of them as possible, and leaves you with lemon-infused water to further bump up the flavour of the cordial.
Another way to add flavour, and to make your drinks pretty, is flavoured ice cubes. Cut up a lemon into tiny wedges and place a piece in each cube of an ice cube tray. Add a mint leaf and fill with water. Freeze and you’ll have minty lemon flavour bombs to add to cold drinks or, more deliciously, cocktails.
Serve the cordial with soda water (1 part cordial to 4 parts water) and ice, a sprig of mint and a round of lemon on the side. Add some vodka for special occasions. Or just splash some cordial in a glass of water when you’re in desperate need of sunshine.
Traditional Lemon Cordial
Makes 2-3 500ml bottles
Recipe from Good Food
- 7-10 unwaxed lemons
- 650g granulated sugar
Prepare your bottles or jars by running them through a short dishwasher cycle or placing them in a simmering pot of water for 5 minutes, in order to sterilise them. Drain on a clean tea towel while you prepare your cordial.
Put a pot of water on to boil and scrub your lemons while you wait. Zest four of the lemons, saving he zest for later.
When the water comes to the boil place all the lemons in the pot and leave for one minute. Remove the lemons, reserving the lemon-infused water. Juice the lemons.
Put sugar, reserved lemon zest and 500ml of the lemon-infused water into a saucepan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil.
Add 500ml lemon juice and bring just to boiling point. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a jug.
Pour immediately into hot, sterilised bottles or jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool and store in a cool dry place, or in the fridge. It will last up to 4 months.