Elderflower Cordial

Easy Elderflower Cordial

One of the best jobs in the kitchen early summer is making Elderflower Cordial; everything about it is fun.  Going out foraging for the flower heads, the heady scent all over the house as the flowers steep in their sticky, sugar syrup, right up to the chink of ice in the jug when I pour in my homemade cordial when getting it ready to serve, I love it all.

This recipe shows just how easy it is to make. A couple of tips though, do not pick the flowers near a roadside as the flowers will be tainted, pick early morning if you can and no trespassing; there are plenty of trees not on private land to find the flowers. 


For the Cordial

30 – 40 large elderflower heads

1 k sugar

1.5 litres boiling water

4 large unwaxed organic lemons

55 g citric acid (from a local pharmacy)



Large saucepan, bowl or small bucket

Wooden spoon

Clean tea towel

Clean sterilised bottles, glass or plastic (see note in the recipe)

Make the cordial:

  1. Start by cleaning your flowers which are easier than you may think. Hold each flower head by the stem and shake gently over a sheet of newspaper, any creatures lurking in flower (and who could blame them with all that sweetness) should fall out. Keep the flowers to one side.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water in a large saucepan or heatproof bowl. Leave it to cool.
  3. Finely grate the rind of the lemon into the sugar-water, thickly slice the lemons and add to the sugar-water with the citric acid and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  4. Finally, add the cleaned flower heads and give the mixture another good stir.
  5. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool, not cold place for a minimum of 48 hours.
    Using a chinois (fine sieve) if you have one, or a sieve lined with a muslin cloth, strain the liquid into a clean bowl or large jug. Discard the flowers and lemons.

Bottling the Elderflower Cordial:

Fill, pretty sterilised bottles with the elderflower cordial, seal with a screw cap or cork and put somewhere cool and dark for a couple of weeks and the cordial is ready to drink. If you wish to keep it for longer, then the sealed bottles will need to be sterilised in a water bath. Or, the cordial freezes very well but use plastic bottles not glass, you can decant the cordial into a pretty jug or bottle after defrosting. Once opened, keep the bottle in the refrigerator.

The elderflower cordial is delicious diluted with still or fizzy water or used as a flavouring in ice creams, fruit fools (puréed fruit mixed with whipped cream), and other recipes.


Credit: © Elaine Lemm