Elderflower Cordial




Elderflower cordial has a sweet, floral, refreshing taste which is one of my favourite summer drinks. It's a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup that can be mixed with sparkling water or soda water and ice to enjoy in the heat.

From mid-June to mid-July you can't turn the corner in the area where I live without seeing an elder tree in flower.

At this time of year the fist sized bunches of tiny white elderflowers make a great cordial which is really tasty with sparkling water, ice and a slice of lemon. Be sure to leave some flowers on the tree though as come Autumn the berries make a great wine!

Thanks to jonnybo1 for his help picking the flowers, steveastrouk for the tree, gmjhowe for help with photography and, mixing and lizzyastro for help bottling!

Step 1: Ingredients and Materials

  • 32 elderflower heads
  • 1kg sugar
  • 55g citric acid
  • 4 washed, unwaxed lemons
  • 1.5 litres boiling water

Tools & Materials:
  • 1 large pan
  • 1 jelly bag (or scrap of fine muslin)
  • several sealable bottles

Step 2: Obtaining Elderflowers

You'll need 32 elderflower heads.

Of course, the best method is to go out and pick them. Pick any within reach from the elder tree until you have all that you need.

Our elder tree at work however had to come down. It was starting to push a fence down and we wanted to heighten the wall as well. So I cut it down then found a small boy to forage through it picking off the heads while I finished off the tree.

If you leave picking the flowers too late like I almost did, try heading somewhere cooler (like up a hill or out of the town) to find some elder trees still in flower.

Step 3: Dissolve the Sugar

Pour 1.5L of boiling water over the kilo of sugar in a large pan.

Stir until it has dissolved.

Allow the sugar syrup to cool before adding anything else.

Step 4: Lemons

Zest all four lemons then cut into thick slices.

Add to the cooled sugar syrup.

Step 5: Citric Acid

Measure out 55g of citric acid granules and add to the pan. Stir until they've dissolved.

The citric acid lowers the pH of the cordial and keeps bugs at bay. It also enhances the lemonie flavour.

Step 6: Steep

Toss in the elderflower heads and smoosh around until they're under the water line.

Cover with a clean tea towel and store in a cool place to steep for 24-48 hours.

Step 7: Sterilise

Sterilise the bottles in a hot oven. If reusing them, rinse well first. Mine were new so I just ovened them for 10 minutes at 150ºC.

To sterilise the lids, boil them for a few minutes.

Step 8: Bottle

Having steeped for 48 hours the cordial should now be ready. Remove the bottles from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle them. Fill the bottles any way you please, lab glassware not essential.

Cap immediately.

Step 9: Serve

Serve in a glass with ice and lemon, diluted with sparkling water to taste.

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      46 Discussions


      Reply 4 years ago

      the berrys contain cyanide but the stalks of the plants contain 5 times as much and its there to give the birds who eat them the squirts so the berrys seeds get spead quicker lol


      Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

      All poisons are by definition toxic in relatively small amounts (you know, it just doesn't kill the russian dissent quietly enough otherwise), but a number of them are actually very healthy in small small amounts. Cyanide as one of them, is essential for human life (i assume many animals). I can't remember precisely what kind of basic molecules require it [sorry :/]. In the body, is usually bonded strongly as part of a bigger molecule, so it doesn't go off by itself to damage things. The bigger issue is accumulating poisons, like heavy metals, that your body doesn't filter very well.


      Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

      Reminds me of a strange disorder called Pica where one has an abnormal appetite for strange things...


      8 years ago on Introduction

      Being as it is the time of year for the flowers, and the fact that I am unable to find any trees in my local area (west Cumbria), would you be willing to make and sell some to me? I have tasted it before and loved it.


      Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

      No, no alcohol. There's no yeast in it so it doesn't ferment. It has enough citric acid in it to stay as it is for through the winter.