How to Make British Cordials

This summer, I set about trying to figure out what all those slightly fizzy, deliciously fruity beverages were that we saw when we were in England last year. After much searching, I discovered that they were what the British call "cordials".

And for a little etymology lesson:

- Yes, cordial does mean "warm and friendly", but that's not what we're talking about here.

- In North America, we define a cordial as a "liqueur" and it's alcoholic.

- In England, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a cordial is "a sweet drink made from fruit, to which water is usually added." It is NOT alcoholic.

Stated as simply as possible, a British cordial is a homemade fruit syrup to which you add sparkling water.

I searched and searched for recipes, and finally combined the ideas from several and came up with a "basic" recipe which you can use with any fruit.

British Cordial

1 lb. of fruit
3 c. water
2 1/2 c. sugar

Rinse fruit and chop, if necessary. (Berries can be used whole. I did cut strawberries in half. Other fruits, you may want to chop.) Place fruit and water in a medium-sized saucepan.

Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.

Strain the fruit and liquid through a jelly bag, or through cheesecloth, until it is completely done dripping. Do NOT squeeze the bag or press the fruit, or your cordial will be cloudy. 

Meanwhile, sterilize a jar by washing in hot, soapy water and placing in a 200 degree oven until ready to use, OR by running it through the sanitize setting on your dishwasher. I also sanitized the ring and band for the jar. (I used a canning jar.)

Return just the strained juice to the pan. Add the sugar. Heat gently until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the top, as necessary. Boil for 10 mins. (slightly less if using just strawberries).

Pour into sterilized jar. Allow to cool, seal, and refrigerate. 

Will keep for 3 months.

Makes about 1 pint. 

How to Use:

When ready to serve, add about 1-2 T. to an 8-12 oz. glass, along with several ice cubes.

Top with sparkling water. I use San Pellegrino. Add a bit of fresh fruit, if you'd like.

Additional Tips and Flavor Combos:

- This recipe makes about 1 pint of fruit syrup. But you need very little to add to each glass. To pack along for a picnic, I found these handy small jars at Target (click here, not sponsored...just want you to be able to find them), which can hold quite a bit of cordial, and yet take up minimal space in your picnic cooler. Just don't forget to bring along a tall bottle of San Pellegrino too!

- Our favorite way to pack them along for a picnic, is to use some of Jenny Steffens Hobick's Clear Cups and Lids (click here...also not sponsored...just want you to know where to get them). They hold just the right amount, fit easily into a car cup holder, and allow you to see the pretty cordial!

- All the cute, patriotic, paper straws were found in the dollar bin at Target around the 4th of July. Check back there next year!

- Our favorite flavor combo was a strawberry cordial with lemon-flavored San Pellegrino (see photo above).

- I made a "berries & cherries" combo using cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

- Another tasty combo is "blackberry & vanilla", made by adding a vanilla bean (whole, do NOT split the bean or scrape the seeds out) when you return the juice to the pan and add the sugar. Discard the bean before bottling.

Happy sipping!

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