Highly refined white sugar was the first thing I removed from the pantry when we began to convert to a Real Food diet. My cupboards now hold all manner of unrefined sugars: dark muscovado, coconut sugar, rapadura, raw sugar and golden caster sugar. I use unrefined sugars in all my baking, and even in ice cream and lime curd. If you look carefully though, you will find one small bag of “white death” (as it is lovingly known in our house) tucked away at the back of the storeroom. This small bag is used for one thing, and one thing only. Cordial.
My dad’s citrus trees are in full swing at the moment, so when he offered me some grapefruit I readily accepted. We love grapefruit juice, and fresh juice can’t be beaten. I imagined a small bag, maybe a dozen fruit if I was lucky. Apparently dad’s trees are heavily laden at the moment, because a very large tub of freshly picked fruit arrived on my doorstep. A bottle of juice and a batch of grapefruit curd barely made a dent in the tub, so I decided that cordial might be a good way to use up more of the fruit.
I have genuinely tried to make cordial with unrefined sugars but it just doesn’t taste that great. Unrefined sugars have deep caramel and molasses notes that are wonderful in baking and almost unpleasant in my favourite citrus cordials. The unrefined sugar turns the bright clear colours of the citrus juice an unappetising brown, and it appears that the cordial has gone bad when it is still perfectly drinkable.
It seems a double standard to use refined white sugar whilst extolling the virtues of wholefoods, but I look at this from another angle. When I make my own cordial I use only fresh juice and sugar. There are no additives, artificial colours or flavours that are usually found in shop bought products. I add only enough sugar to balance out the sharpness of the juice, and the amount I use varies for each batch as the produce changes.
I am in no way perfect when it comes to eating Real Food all the time. There are things I love that cannot in any way be considered whole food (hello deep fried spring rolls from my favourite Vietnamese stall). It is hard to to eat perfectly all of the time, so I satisfy myself with being almost perfect most of the time. And if that means drinking homemade cordial with refined white sugar, I’m OK with that.
Simple Grapefruit Cordial
If you wish to make larger batches you will either need to add more sugar or properly heat treat the cordial for storage. I have on occasion made larger batches and heat treated them for storage. This has worked well.
To serve, pour the desired amount into a glass and top up with cold mineral water. Add ice and enjoy!
I used seven large grapefruit to produce one litre of juice.
- 1 litre freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 250 g white sugar
- Mineral water and ice cubes to serve
- Place the juice and sugar in a saucepan and place over a moderate heat.
- Warm the juice, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not allow the juice to boil.
- Remove from the heat and strain.
- Bottle the cordial and store in the fridge.