Years ago, many people would enjoy a nice glass of Robinson’s fruit squash, particularly when watching Wimbledon! But today this and most other fruit squash drinks are packed in plastic bottles, and the natural sugar reduced to be replaced by artificial sweeteners (which have health concerns, are tested on animals and taste vile). Why not switch to a better brand of fruit cordial? Many brands use real foraged fruits to support local farmers, and are packed in glass bottles that don’t taint the drinks. They taste nicer too.
As most don’t contain artificial preservatives, keep upright in the fridge once opened, and use within a couple of weeks, to prevent fermentation. They use natural sugar, so keep the lid on during summer to avoid bees and wasps. Avoid high-sugar drinks for diabetes (elderflower may also interact with diabetes medication, causing blood sugar to drop too low). Rhubarb is best avoided for stomach issues.
Real sugar is much better, but use in moderation. And for children with growing teeth, ensure they brush their teeth after use, to avoid sticky sugary drinks staying in the mouth for hours. You can use these cordials with cold water or hot for a nice toddy on chilly days.
Urban Cordial (London) is a range of drinks, made from ‘lumpy bumpy’ fruits that are rejected by supermarkets, and would otherwise go to landfill. The founder used to work in the City, before her love of foraging ingredients to turn into cordials, became a new career. The range includes apple blackberry, blackberry lavender, elderflower, pear ginger, raspberry rosemary and strawberry sage.
Rocks Drinks (Devon) was founded by three dads! Made with local water and natural sugar, choose from orange, lemon or blackcurrant for a traditional nostalgic glass of squash.
Yarty Cordials (Hampshire) are lovingly handmade/ The co-founder adapted recipes from her great-grandmother who trained at a cookery school for young ladies in 1914, and developed these unique drinks, to preserve fruits. Most fruits are locally sourced and sold in traditional flavours like raspberry elderflower and rhubarb ginger.
Tree Top Press (Yorkshire) makes fruit cordials from seasonal fruits, often from local hedgerows. Gently steamed fruits are mixed with a little sugar to produce damson and blood orange drinks.
Side Oven Bakery Lemon Cordial (Yorkshire) is one for traditionalists, with lemons slowly infused to bring out a truly zesty flavour. Mix with sparkling water for the best homemade lemonade!
Country Cordials (Cornwall) offers ‘proper squash’ made in the Tamar Valley, made with fruit and diluted with still or sparkling water (or with hot water to soothe a tickly throat). The range includes bitter lemon, ginger beer, Cornish strawberry and rhubarb.
Make Your Own Fruit Cordials
Ensure fruit is fruit is pasteurised if pregnant (to avoid harmful bacteria that could cause food poisoning). Wash and rinse bottles thoroughly, then bake in a pre-heated oven (avoid touching them while pouring in the drinks). Leave a little gap in the bottle neck, before replacing the lid. See how to safely sterilise glass bottles and jars.
Classic Elderflower Cordial (Anna Banana) is perfect for hot days. It has a floral taste (a bit like those sugared almonds you may have enjoyed as a child). Mix with sparkling water as a teetotal alternative to white wine spritzer. It’s also good in cocktails and baked goods.
Homemade Wild Blackberry Cordial (K33 Kitchen) is a 2-in-1 recipe. As well as making the cordial, you also make some wild blackberry jam at the same time. Ideal to use up a glut of produce, when in season.
Lemon Verbena & Vanilla Cordial (Delicious Magazine) is a refreshing drink for grownups, with edible flowers.