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Elderflower cordial recipe

Elderflower cordial recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Drink

This is an easy to make refreshing drink made from elderflowers. It's nice as a gin mixer, or diluted with soda or sparkling water for a change. Can be made without the oranges and less lemon according to your preference.

16 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 30 elderflower heads
  • 6 pints (approx. 3 litres) of boiling water
  • 2lb (900g) caster sugar
  • 1 packet (approx 80 grams) of citric acid (available from chemists)
  • 2 unwaxed oranges, sliced
  • 2 unwaxed lemons, sliced

MethodPrep:5days ›Cook:10min ›Ready in:5days10min

  1. Gently rinse the elderflowers to remove any dirt or little creatures.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a very large mixing bowl. Stir well and leave to cool.
  3. Add the citric acid, the orange and lemon slices and then the flowers.
  4. Leave in a cool place for 5 days, stirring occasionally.
  5. Strain through some muslin and bottle.
  6. Dilute with water to taste: 5 parts water to 1 of cordial.


Freeze in plastic bottles, but don't fill to the top, as you need to allow for expansion of liquid when frozen.Unfrozen cordial will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

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Elderflower cordial recipe, plus tips on the best time of day to pick elderflowers

It's elderflower season and time to turn to a reliable elderflower cordial recipe that's easy to make at home. Try to make this elderflower cordial recipe within a couple of hours of picking the flowers for the best results.

When is the best time to pick elderflowers?

Gather elderflower heads on a sunny, dry morning (before the insects harvest the flowers&rsquo pale yellow pollen) as their aroma fades by the afternoon. Expect to see elderflowers (Sambucus nigra, or common elder) flowering from May to June with exact timings depending on the weather. A mild winter should make for a bumper crop come late spring.

Tips for picking elderflower

&bull Find elder trees that aren't by a busy road and avoid flowers lower down that dogs or foxes may have peed on

&bull Avoid any that smell of urine, the smell means they&rsquore past their best

&bull Snip off the flower heads with as little stalk as possible so the plant is not damaged

&bull Before using, pick off any insects but don't run the flowers under the tap or you'll wash the natural yeasts off

The above video was part of our Celebrate At Home with Country Living virtual event which took place on 9th and 10th May 2020, alongside an online Artisan Pop-Up Market. Please note that both events are now over and any mentions of them in the video no longer apply.

DIY Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Elderflower cordial perks up a drink by adding a little sweetness and a light floral touch. For less than a dollar, you can make a delicious elderflower mixer that tastes a bit like a lemon bar mixed with a light, floral tea.

If you like, use oranges or grapefruit instead of lemons, or substitute honey or agave nectar for the sugar. This mixture is concentrated and non-alcoholic, but you can combine it with vodka or pear eau de vie for an impromptu liqueur.

Note: Dried elderflowers can be found in many Latin grocery stores. Some homebrew and winemaking shops carry them as well. If you have access to fresh elderflower blossoms, do not dry them, as they will produce a more fragrant and delicate cordial when used fresh. You will, however, have to use at least twice as much by volume. Be sure to pick them when they smell fresh rather than when they start to yellow on the plant.

Citric acid powder, also known as sour salt, is easy to find at many markets, but you can order it online from Amazon, too. It not only boosts the acidity of the cordial, but it also acts as a preservative. Meyer lemons can be found in high end grocery stores during the winter citrus season. If not available, half a regular lemon and half an orange can be used in the place of one Meyer lemon.

How do you dilute elderflower cordial

There is no right or wrong with this, it simply depends on how sweet you like your drink. We use tap water, but you can try sparkling water for extra bubbly effect.

Depending on how you’ve made your cordial, you might like to add extra lemon in.

Elderflower cordial is also perfect with tonic water.

Summer elderflower recipes

Elderflower season runs for just a few weeks throughout June so it's important that we make the most of the harvest while we can and enjoy the subtle but distinct flavour in some stand-out recipes. We have rounded up our favourites which include two beverages and two dessert treats.

These fluffy elderflower marshmallows are delicately flavoured with homemade elderflower cordial and tinted a subtle pastel green. Much more palatable than many overly sweet shop bought versions, these soft sweets won't last long.

This fragrant, light elderflower cheesecake proves perfect for a summer's day dessert. Serve topped with seasonal red British fruits and fresh elderflowers as the star attraction of any picnic.

Make this elderflower liqueur during the season and it should be ready to drink by July. Mix with tonic for a refreshing long summer drink.

Try to make this elderflower cordial within a couple of hours of picking for best results. Gather elderflower heads on a sunny, dry morning &ndash their aroma fades by the afternoon.

How to Make Elderflower Cordial

The Elderflower in our hedges are back and my homemade elderflower cordial is back on the menu!

I think last years batch ran out towards the end of October.

So it’s been a looooong time coming!

The out of season fragrance (if/when I manage to make my stash last till the winter) instantly jets me straight back to these long, warm early summer evenings.

And as always there’s something extra special about popping the cork on a brew that you picked and preserved yourself.

Are Elderflowers poisonous?

The flowers are absolutely not poisionous, and perfectly safe to us all to consume.

However, the leaves and stems of the elder tree contain a compound that can be toxic.

You can find out more on the qualities of this plant here.

There aren’t many plants you can confuse with elderflower.

However, do make sure you are picking them from a tree, as opposed to a stalk.

As there are umbellifers (think cow parsley and hemlock) that have a slightly similar flower head and may be poisonous.

As you can see in the pic below, the flowers are like little umbrellas.

Elderflowers also smell sweet and florally (unless you leave a bunch of them in your kitchen overnight, as that sweetness turns to a scent very similar to cats pee!)

How long can you keep homemade elderflower cordial?

If your bottle is sterile, and all your utensils are scrupulously clean, your syrup will last in the fridge for months.

The easiest way to sterilise any equipment beforehand is to run it through a dishwasher.

You can also sterilise them in an oven, or use sterlising tablets such as Milton tablets.

What is in elderflower cordial?

A cordial is an extremely sweet syrup that you can mix with water or alcohol to produce a sweet and fragrant drink.

It can also be used in baking and desserts to give sweetness and a beautiful floral scent and flavour.

You can find the full recipe below, but you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh elderflowers, ideally pick these on a warm sunny day.
  • Sugar, white granulated is fine
  • Lemons, as you’re using the peel as well as the juice, try to source organic or unwaxed if possible. If not, scrub first.
  • Boiling water
  • Citric acid, you can find this in chemists, large supermarkets or order online

Want more elderflower recipes?

I have a few recipes here on The Hedgecombers for using this pretty wild flower.

You can find all my Elderflower recipes here.

And if you’d like to watch a video I created all about picking elderflowers for cordial, you can watch that here.

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

The short season of elderflower has begun and this year, I’ve actual picked some of the flowers from the tree in the garden to turn into cordial. The tree has grown so much, it’s actually grown over part of my veg patch!

Elderflower is so pretty and when the flowers are fresh, it smells like summer – once the flowers have gone past their prime, it smells like cat wee. YUM.

You’ll see elderflower everywhere at the moment – hedgerows, gardens, roadside, woodlands – and whilst it’s short-lived, it’s a gorgeous sight to behold, signalling that summer is on its merry way. It doesn’t take long for the flowers to die back and then they’ll produce beautiful dark purple elderberries , ready to be turned into jam. Or vodka.

I’ve made elderflower cordial before and let’s just say it wasn’t good, which is why I’ve given it a wide birth these past couple of years. However, I kept looking at the flowers growing and covering the tree in the garden, which spurred me on to try again and luckily it was a success.

Where I had gone wrong, was that I hadn’t removed enough of the stalk and if you leave this in, you get this horrible, bitter taste, which ruins the cordial.

To make the cordial, you’ll need to leave it to infuse overnight and the most time-consuming part is in the prep, but it is really simple to do.

Remember, the only edible part of the elder is the flower so don’t be tempted to use the leaves.

What you’ll need:
– Muslin cloth
– Large pan
– Large bowl
– 20-25 elderflower heads (I used 20 as the heads I used were huge!)
– 1kg of granulated sugar
– 2 unwaxed lemons
– 1 orange

Elderflower Cordial&hellip

This is a rare post that contains tow recipes for you. An Elderflower cordial recipe joins the Elderflower champagne recipe.

As you can see from the two recipes below there is no difference in the ingredients between elderflower cordial and champagne. Only the ratios differ and of course the fact that elderflower cordial is not fermented.

Elderflower has a strong association with &lsquoVictorian&rsquo Britain. However, it is an ancient idea dating back to Roman times and likely before that.

Elderflower grows throughout Europe, North East Africa and Western. It typically blooms between May and June. So sorry US readers you may have to skip this one, but I would love to hear if it is popular out there.

How To Make Elderflower Cordial

It is surprisingly simple to make the cordial. First, you simmer the elderflower sprays in water and you will slowly see it turning slightly yellow. Then you add some sugar and let it simmer for a bit longer until the sugar is dissolved. And that’s it. Now you can enjoy a glass of refreshing elderflower cordial mixed with water.

If you want and can bottle the cordial into sterilised bottles and keep them in the fridge for a few weeks.

Shake then lightly rinse the elderflower heads to remove any dirt or tiny insects. If you collected them near a road or low to the ground you can soak them in water with a few drops of vinegar added to make sure they’re nice and clean

Next put the sugar in a large mixing bowl with the lemon slices, boiling water and citric acid and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the elderflower heads, cover and leave in a cool place for 24 hrs, stirring occasionally.

Strain the mixture through muslin into a large clean bowl then transfer to sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a cool dark place. To serve, dilute with sparkling mineral water and decorate with fresh mint sprigs, if liked.