On a warm summer’s day there is nothing better than a cold glass of something sweet and fruity. In Denmark we make lots of “saft” which best translates into cordial or squash – a thick and strong fruit drink that is diluted with (sparkling) water. We have so many strawberries in summer that there is no way we can eat them all so we have come up with all sorts of ways to preserve the fresh summer fruit for later on in the year when summer is long gone and making cordial out of them is a good way.
This strawberry and rhubarb cordial is easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or almost indefinitely in the freezer – this way you can have a sip of summer in the cold winter months. The cordial is also great for making sorbets and cocktails.
Strawberry and rhubarb cordial
Makes 3-4 liters of undiluted cordial
4kg very ripe strawberries
2-3 organic lemons
5dl golden caster sugar or to taste
2 vanilla pods
If you happen to have fresh elderflower then put in some of those too
Bottles with tight fitting lids for 3-4 liters of cordial
Clean the strawberries and rhubarb, cut them into smaller pieces, and put the fruit in a pot large enough to contain it all. Cut open the vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and mix well with a deciliter of sugar – this makes it easier for the vanilla to dissolve in the cordial. Put the sugar and the empty vanilla pods in the pot together with the peel and juice from two lemons.
Pour enough water into the pot to almost cover the fruit – I used around 2,5 liters.
Let it gentle simmer until the fruit is very soft – this will take about 45-60 minutes. Mash the fruit so it becomes a think porridge like consistency. Add sugar and perhaps more lemon to taste – how much depends on the ripeness of the fruit and personal preference, but I usually add around 4dl of sugar and maybe half a lemon. Let the fruit sit until completely cool or preferable keep it overnight in the fridge to draw out as much taste as possible. Taste the fruit again and adjust with lemon and sugar if needed.
Pick out the vanilla pods and the lemon peel and strain the fruit. If you would like a clear liquid then pass the fruit through a thin muslin cloth. If you – like me – don’t care (it doesn’t affect the taste) than just pass it through a fine mesh sieve and let all the juice run through. It takes a bit of time, but you can help the process along with a spoon and a bit of patience. The leftover fruit can be eaten on bread, put in muffins or eaten on top of your morning cereal.
Sterilize the bottles for the cordial – if you are unsure of the process then here is a good guide. Pour the cordial into the sterilized bottles and keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for up to a year. Remember to use plastic bottles if you are planning on freezing the cordial.
The cordial is quite strong so it is best to thin it with (sparkling) water – use one part cordial to one part water or to taste. Serve the cordial with lots of ice, slices of lemon and perhaps even some fresh berries. It also works very well in a glass of sparkling wine as a fruity summer drink.