Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower season meant one thing this year, homemade Elderflower cordial. This was a first for me and if I’m honest the first go was, well, a disaster!! Pouring hot liquid onto the elderflowers caused the cordial to go a horrible brown colour!  I’m not going to try that method again! But my second attempt using cooled syrup turned out beautifully and tastes delicious (especially with some tonic water), so here’s the recipe.

All citrus fruit is from our local greengrocer and the sugar is from our local package-free shop. Elderflowers from the garden!

INGREDIENTS (makes 3l of cordial)
  • 800g sugar
  • 25 sprigs of freshly picked elderflowers
  • 3 litres water
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 10g citric acid (optional, but we like the added layer of flavour that citric acid gives and it also helps the cordial store for longer)

TIP: pick the elderflowers on a dry day when the flower pollen is at its best and has most flavour.

TIP: choose the new flowers that are bursting with pollen as they will have more flavour. 

  • Make the syrup: place the water and sugar in a pan. Slowly heat, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is fully dissolved bring to a boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes.
  • Pour the syrup into a large bowl and leave to thoroughly cool.
  • Check the elderflowers for any insects, remove them gently (do not wash the flowers otherwise you will lose all the flavour)
  • Zest/peel the oranges and lemons, then slice the lemons and oranges.
  • Place the elderflowers in the cold syrup, flower side down and submerge. Add in the orange and lemon slices and zest.
  • Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  • Using a fine muslin, strain the liquid. If you still have bits in the cordial, strain again through a double layer of muslin.
  • Add the citric acid and stir in well.
  • Decant the cordial into sterilised bottles that seal.
  • Store in a very cool place. Once open, keep in the fridge.

We found the cordial wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day when mixed with chilled tonic water. We also love adding elderflowers cordial to fresh fruit salad or to give a little juice to strawberries. 

Now we have found a recipe that works, I think we’ll start making homemade elderflower every year (and more than 3 bottles!)