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Water can quickly become uninteresting as a thirst quencher but it can easily be pepped up with a slice of lemon or lime, strawberries or raspberries, and a few leaves of mint and ice. Also, cordials are easy to make and ensure we are not consuming chemical additives.
Make one by juicing and grating the rind of three lemons, adding a litre of hot water in which you have dissolved 500g sugar. Allow it to cool before diluting with icecubes. A few limes or oranges make a good change and a combination of all three is good too. Seasonal raspberries and blackcurrants are delicious, along with elderflowers growing in the wild which are the cheapest of all, but are gone from many places now. Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills has plenty of recipes.
Today’s survey concentrates on the ingredients of cordials in the shops with less emphasis on taste, due to their wide variety. Remember that all cordials contain sugar, so while they are better than fizzy drinks for teeth and health in general, a final swish in the mouth with water is necessary to avoid problems. The calories they contain also need to counted in if watching weight.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Organic Elderflower Cordial 500ml €5.79
This needs ten parts water to one part cordial, making 5.5 litres in total, which is better value than it first appears. Genuine, fresh flavours of elderflower with lemon to freshen things up, add up to a delicious drink. Citric acid is used to preserve, as we would ourselves, and nothing else but sugar is added. As good as homemade.
Marks & Spencer British cox apple cordial, 500ml €3.49
This is diluted one to four parts water and yields 2.5 litres. Refreshing and naturally sweet with genuine apple flavours, it’s made from 50% apple juice not from concentrate. The commendably short list of ingredients includes sugar, lemon juice from concentrate and spring water. A delicious drink.
Rose’s lime juice cordial, 1 litre €2.99
Four parts water to one of this cordial made from a decently short list, including lime juice concentrate, sugar and citric acid. This brings the yield to a decent 5 litres. The preservative is sodium metabisulphite.
Sulphites can cause reactions in those with sensitivities. Made in Britain for the Coca Cola company. Refreshing and not too sweet.
Ribena blackcurrant 1 litre €2
Mercifully made from sugar and not its substitutes, with 23% blackcurrant juice from concentrate before dilution. Potassium sorbate, sodium bisulphite are the preservatives and the label advises it is not recommended for children under three years. A fairly short list of ingredients (though not easy to read) is commendable. The dilution of ‘at least four parts water’ gives quite a weak result, but with no nasty chemical aftertaste and there is genuine, fruity flavour.
Lidl Royal orchard blackcurrant high juice, 1 litre €1.45
Quite a syrupy texture to dilute by four parts water yielding 5 litres. A good blackcurrant flavour from 50% blackcurrant juice from concentrate, but a little over-sweet from glucose-fructose syrup as well as sugar. Glucose-fructose syrup has been implicated as a source of obesity problems, so watch for it in other convenience products as an accumulation could be unhealthy. Preservatives are sodium metabisulphate and potassium sorbate which are noted on the label.
MiWadi orange, 1 litre €1.99
While the label says there is no added sugar in this drink, it has less desirable ingredients to replace it. Sweeteners are Aspartame and Acesulfame K, which are cheaper to produce, but give a back taste in the final result. The orange flavour is weak when diluted at the one to four ratio, but the back taste increased when we tried it with less water. The label advises that the cordial is a source of phenylaline which is found in Aspartame. It has been found to cause problems in those with PKU, a genetic kidney disorder.
Fruice orange squash, 750ml €1.85
This ‘double strength’ squash has ‘no added sugar’, but in its place a list of additives, including sweeteners Aspartame and sodium saccharin. Metabisulphate and potassium sorbate are the preservatives. The label lists phenylaline (see Miwadi), and allergen advice reminds us there are sulphites in it. The ingredients list is printed on orange colour background, which is difficult to read. Taste not very orange.
Robinsons lemon barley water, 850ml €3.29
Four parts water is recommended here, but no dilution worked for us as the backtaste of saccharin was too much with the lemon. While the label states there are no artificial colours or flavours or sweeteners, the flavour is not natural to taste. Potassium sorbate and sodium metabisulphite are used to preserve. Our tasters did not agree with HM Queen Elizabeth II whose approval is carried on the label.