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How to make Elderflower Cordial

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Considering elderflower is currently growing every where, in every hedgerow, ditch and maybe even in your garden! It would be a shame not to capture the beautiful summer flavour and hold on to it all year round.

Now there is what I would consider a shocking amount of sugar in this recipe, but then you have to recipe it is a 'cordial' and is to be used sparingly. It is also quite a high yield on this recipe.

If this recipe is kept in properly sterilised bottles and refrigerated, it will keep for up to a year. (It may last last longer but it has never managed to last that long in our fridge, it ends up in every glass of sparkling water, prosecco and even lemonade!)

Few tips:

  • Pick elderflower early in the morning on a dry day to get as much of the flower’s pollen as possible, ensuring you get maximum flavour in your cordial.

  • Don’t pick flowers after a rainy day or late at night, as a lot of the pollen will have been knocked off.

  • Use scissors to avoid damaging the plant and try to not take an excessive amount of stalk,

  • Do not pick elderflowers that are by a busy road or down low that an animal may have urinated on. Nor if you know there has been pesticides or chemicals sprayed along the road recently.

  • When picking the flowers, put into a cloth bag, avoid using plastic bags that will cause it to sweat or wilt.

  • Use the flowers as soon as possible after picking.

  • If the flowers smell like urine, do not use them as they are no longer suitable to use.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Infusion time: 24 hours

Yield: 3.100 litres


2.5 kg Caster Sugar

1.6 Litre Water

30 Elderflower heads, rinsed and green stalks trimmed

3 Lemons

85g Citric Acid, available in your local pharmacy


  1. Put the sugar and water in a large saucepan and start to heat it gently, stirring constantly at the start to ensure the sugar dissolves without catching or burning.

  2. While the sugar and water is heating; using a peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in strips and then slice the rest of the lemons into rounds.

  3. Check the elderflower for insects and dead flowers, ensuring to remove both and any visible dirt. Then lightly rinse the heads of elderflower in a bowl of cold water, by swishing them and gently shake and leave to sit on a clean tea towel.

  4. Bring the sugar and water up to the boil and let boil for at least a minute. Then add in the citric acid, trimmed elderflower, and lemon peel & rounds. Stir the mixture and leave to infuse for 24 hours. Keep the pot covered and at room temperature.

  5. The next day, pass the mixture through a muslin cloth or a very clean tea towel.

  6. Transfer the mixture into sterilised bottle with a seal (I use Kilner bottles as they are very reliable and easy to purchase new seals).

  7. Store in the fridge for up to a year.

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