Easy Elderflower Cordial Recipe


Early summertime and the air is sweet with the scent of elderflowers. Making elderflower cordial is simple, a great activity to do with friends and family. Elderflowers grow wild in many places so if you haven’t got any in your garden, look out for them during June and July in the hedgerows or your neighbours’ gardens. They are easy to identify with their frothy cream heads and their sweet scent.

We found our nearest elderflowers dangling over from a big tree in our neighbour’s garden. The elderflowers were out of reach. We tried all sorts of ways to reach them, climbing ladders, sitting on shoulders, but nothing was as good as one person cutting them with a long armed cutter while a team of us fielded, catching each head before it hit the gravel.

The tree we were picking from is enormous, so we went crazy and collected two big boxes of elderflower heads. We left plenty of flowers to turn into berries. If you want elderberries later in the year, then you’ll need to leave some of the flowers on the tree to turn into berries. The recipe below only needs 25 heads, which you should find easily.

Simple Recipe for Elderflower Cordial

  • About 25 elderflower heads
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • Finely grated zest of 4 unwaxed lemons (swap 1 with orange or 2 with lime for a different zing)
  • Juice of the 4 lemons (about 150ml in total)
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp citric acid (this helps to keep it from fermenting longer, it’s unnecessary if you are going to freeze it)
  • Making the cordial

  • Soak the heads in cool water to allow the bugs to escape, strain and place in a large bowl or saucepan. Add the citrus zest and 1.5 litres of boiling water. Cover and leave over night to infuse.
  • Use a colander to remove the flower heads. Give the flowers a good squeeze before you put them in the compost.

  • Add the sugar, citrus juice and citrus acid if you are using it to the saucepan. Stir until the sugar is melted. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Use a piece of fine fabric. Muslin is good or a piece of net curtain. No need to buy anything special. Our local Turkish Curtain Fabric Sellers were thrilled to give us the end of a roll of net curtain and taught us a cheese recipe we could make using the cloth.

    The fabric should allow you to strain out the smaller bits of flower and lemon zest.

    Time to bottle it up. We had loads of these bottles reusable wine bottles from Borough Wine, which look perfect if you want to give it away as a gift. Any old clean pop bottle will do. It has to be diluted so even small bottles refilled can make good gifts. We reckon you can dilute it 5 parts water to 1 part cordial at the minimum so even a small bottle will make a lot of drinks.

    Drink it, give it away. We found mould growing on ours within a couple of weeks, which is easy to remove off the top, but do be aware that it won’t keep forever. Ice cubes can be a great way to get round this and a handy way to portion control. 1-2 ice cubes is probably right.

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